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World in Brief: Lebanon protests, Royal titles and Impeachment

More than 150 people were injured in Lebanon’s capital during new riots against the current government. Police retaliated against protesters who were throwing objects including stones, firecrackers and metal signs last Saturday, according to the Associated Press. The riots have been ongoing for the past three months amidst a dwindling economy and of the government’s reformation following the prime minister’s resignation in October 2019. Saturday’s demonstrations condemned the government’s inaction towards the growing debt of $87 billion US, or 150 per cent of the country’s GDP.

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex will no longer be members of the royal family, according to a statement from Buckingham Palace. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will have their royal titles removed and will no longer receive taxpayer money. “As agreed in this new arrangement, they understand that they are required to step back from Royal duties, including official military appointments,” reads the statement. The decision came after the couple announced in an Instagram post their intentions to resign from their roles, spend more time in North America and become financially independent.

Democratic U.S. lawmakers said on Saturday that President Donald Trump must be removed from office. The 111-page document marked the first time the Senate was called to convict the President. “The Senate should convict and remove President Trump to avoid serious and long term damage to our democratic values and the nation’s security,” read the document, quoted in an article by Reuters. “The case against the president of the United States is simple, the facts are indisputable, and the evidence is overwhelming.” The Senate trial is expected to start on Jan. 21.


Graphic by @sundaeghost


Diary Entry: An Immigrant’s Prayer

I can’t sleep without gritting my teeth.

My mind is racing, traveling miles away.

I can’t focus on anything but the constant rapid beating of my heart.

This sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach hasn’t left me for over a week.

This constant anxiety seems to never leave me.

Nothing holds my attention anymore.

I haven’t had a decent work day in over eight days.

I seem to be existing rather than living.


What is wrong with me?

Why does my daily routine suddenly seem so exhausting and futile?

I hear nothing — not even the sound of city streets, nor the sounds of my supervisors urging me to get myself together.

If I close my eyes, I can picture it perfectly.

Flying colours of red and white, the green cedar standing out. The ground vibrating as the dabké nears the corner. Exhausted chants of revolution filling my eardrums.

A single tear escapes my eye. I don’t want to be here.

Montreal is now at its most glorious days, with fiery replenishing colours invading its every corner. And all I want to do is throw myself into the burning fires of the Lebanese revolution.

As the clock struck midnight on Oct. 17, my spirit answered the long-awaited call for riot — seeming to forget where it actually was.

No responsibility seems too dire, no task too urgent — nothing matters but the uprising in my native country.

I know I should be stronger than this. I know I should be mindful of my surroundings. I know now is not the time to long for home.

Yet more than ever, the pull is strong.

The ache in my heart is unbearable.

My people are tired, my people have had it.

They took to the streets, and said “no more,” and with that made all my lost hopes soar.

It wasn’t three weeks before I was asked if I had witnessed any change in Lebanon’s youth, and if I anticipated any sort of uprising. I had chuckled dryly, and shaken my head. “Not in my lifetime,” was always my answer.

And I was never happier to be proven wrong. And god knows I love being right.

So hear a broken immigrant’s prayer:

Do not let your foes fool you once more.

Do not let them lay further traps.

We are now louder than ever before, and hold the whip on their fear.

Fight, and rise from the ashes of corruption, my beautiful phoenix. It was long overdue.


Photo by Laurence B.D.


Solidarity for Lebanese protests reached Montreal on Friday

Protesters gathered in front of the Lebanese consulate in Montreal last Friday in solidarity with the uprising that started on Thursday in Lebanon.

Montreal joined many other cities like New York and London in this solidarity movement, where protesters chanted anti-government chants in Arabic like “Montreal to Beirut, we want to kick out every jerk.”

“We’re trying to show Lebanese people that we are with them and we stand by them and we are all against the government and what it’s doing,” said Dhalia Nazha, the event organizer in Montreal.

The small 10,500 square kilometer country has entered its biggest protest since the garbage crisis in 2015. Citizens are denouncing corruption among government officials and calling for the government’s resignation.

The protest sparked up after the government announced new taxes including one on the use of messaging apps during a major economic crisis. However, the decision was quickly retracted by officials amid the reaction of the population.

But it’s not all about Viber and WhatsApp. The regional turmoil in the Middle East has been affecting Lebanon’s economy for decades. The country now ranks third in debt levels worldwide at $113 billion US or 150 per cent of its GDP according to Trading Economics.

“They steal from the taxes, they steal all the money and they don’t renovate and don’t do any construction in Lebanon,” said Nazha about the current government. “We don’t have any recycling facilities, there’s a lot of pollution and they don’t try to tackle it in what way whatsoever.”

The country struggles to this day for better infrastructure even after billions invested since the end of the civil war in 1990. Citizens deal with daily electricity cuts, trash piling on the streets and limited water supplies from the state-owned water company, according to the Associated Press.

Many Lebanese chose to flee those conditions in search of a better alternative. Some that chose Montreal as their new home took part in the protest.

“I didn’t have a job or education, because education is really expensive in Lebanon, so I was forced to move here for better life conditions,” said Najib Issa, a 20-year-old mechanical engineering student at Polytechnique.

Job shortages and poor salaries also pushed Chantal Stephan to flee her home country. Stephan said she moved to Canada in 2004 to raise her three children who were there with her, all waving small Lebanese flags and chanting along with the crowd.

“I graduated in Lebanon and I didn’t manage to find a decent job, so I decided to move here to work and be well paid,” said Stephan. “Even with my master’s degree, I couldn’t find a decent job [in Lebanon].”

But there is a feeling of hope for the future of the small Middle Eastern country. This is one of the first apolitical, non-religious movements in Lebanon. The Lebanese population has been divided by political and religious affiliations for the past decades.

“We need to unite all together and stop to follow politicians that are controlling us by the tip of our noses,” said Stephan. “It’s important to stay all united because after all, we all want is the good of the country.”

Nazha, Issa and Stephan think this protest is the beginning of a big change that will enable them to reunite with their roots.

“I’m here tonight for my brothers, sisters, parents and every Lebanese that are still in Lebanon,” said Issa. “We’re only defending and reclaiming our rights. And now, we finally have a chance to  come back to our country.”


Feature photo by Jad Abukasm


Oh my sweet, broken home

It is no question that Lebanon prides itself for being a land based on paradoxes.

Where the government forces its people to travel to Cyprus for civil marriage, but never bats an eye at nightclubs closing at 6 a.m. Where religion and politics are – quite literally – the two nesting pillars, and are more often than not interchangeable. Where our greatest accomplishments consist of being among the top 10 party cities, and breaking the Guinness World Record for the biggest hummus plate.

I love my birth country more than anything in the world. Despite all its flaws and political turmoils, I remain the devil’s advocate. However, there are certain things I will never be able to overlook, nor defend; and that is the Lebanese population’s innate racism and intolerance.

On Sept. 20, Lebanon’s Minister of Education Akram Chehayeb took to Twitter to discuss the Near Eastern country’s refugee crisis.

“Despite all the challenges, we will not allow any student to remain outside of school in Lebanon, whatever his nationality, and we will endeavor to ensure a comprehensive and just education for all,” his words read. “The human right to education is a sacred right guaranteed by all international conventions and laws.”

Such an accepting statement did not sit well with a number of people, and was followed by an overtly racist, some would call ‘nationalist,’ caricature. OTV, a Lebanese broadcasting channel, shared a cartoonist’s take on Chehayeb’s words. The drawing shows two Lebanese students walking to school, only to be greeted with a sign that roughly translates from Arabic to: “We apologize, the school is full of Syrians, Palestinians, Indians, (an offensive word for Black people), Ethiopians, Bangladeshis.”

The Daily Star reported that the cartoon has been removed from OTV’s socials as of Monday, with no response from the channel about the backlash.

It’s no secret that Lebanon has had its fair share of conflicts from the influx of refugees, due to the many strifes the Near East has had to face over the years. Not to mention the unresolved Civil War issues, placing the country in a devil’s palm, where the people live in imminent fear of it happening again. Suffice to say, a country with a pint-sized territory of 10,452 square km bites off more discords than it can chew; and for inexplicable reasons, remains hungry for more.

One thing I have learned since moving to Montreal is how similar we all are once we get over our differences. At times, I have more in common with a Syrian or Palestinian citizen than I do with a Lebanese one who has lived their entire life in the same country as I. I even go as far as relating to many Latinos about similar childhood moments, mostly ones relating to parental disciplinary methods. Because globalization has enabled us to look beyond one’s nationality, and realize that no ethnicity is better than others – especially not ethnicities that live so close together. 

As the years go by, I don’t believe the sentence “I am not racist, butshould be tolerated anymore. It is not acceptable to follow antiquated ideals of favouritism, and elitist attitudes, where one believes themselves to be better than others.

I grew up in an environment where institutionalized racism was ever-present, but was taught to treat everyone with respect and kindness. I’ve outgrown, and educated myself out of that innate racial bias, and I am only 22. What’s your excuse?


Graphic by Victoria Blair


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