Lebanon, QNMZ

Quid Pro Quo

(The scene: A Beirut cafe)

Abu Michel: Did you hear that they’re trying to lower the voting age to 18?

Abu Samir: Of course. What a ridiculous idea.

Abu Michel: What do 18 year-olds know about anything?

Abu Samir: When I was 18, I was still a child.

Abu Michel: And the 18 year-olds these days? They’re even more immature, with their video games and their internets.

Abu Samir: Well, I’m glad that Hakim has been very clear on this point. He will not accept lowering the voting age unless they also allow Lebanese emigrants abroad to vote absentee.

Abu Michel: What do you mean “Hakim has been very clear”? El-General has been even clearer!

Abu Samir: So we see eye-to-eye…

Abu Michel: Absolutely.

Abu Samir: I have soooo many relatives living outside Lebanon. If they could vote, the entire picture would change.

Abu Michel: I have so many as well. Dozens!

Abu Samir: Hundreds!

Abu Michel: Thousands!

Abu Samir: Fourteen million! That’s the number of Lebanese living in the diaspora.

Abu Michel: I heard it was more like twenty million!

Abu Samir: Whatever the number is, it’s a lot ya zalameh. And they’re mostly Christian. Why do you think the Berris and Hariris and Jumblatts don’t want to let them vote?

Abu Michel: Absolutely. Look at Carlos Slim. Richest man in the world. Lebanese.

Abu Samir: (smiling) Not just Lebanese. Maronite.

Abu Michel: (smiling) Naturally. And I’m sure that Mr. Slim would love to vote in the municipal elections here in Lebanon. But noooooo, what do Berri and Hariri say?

Abu Samir: (sarcastic voice) “He’s been away too long… he’s never been to Lebanon… his father left when he was 14… he doesn’t even speak Arabic…” Give me a break! Once a Lebanese, always a Lebanese!

Abu Michel: Exactly! He has a right to vote in his ancestral municipality, even if he’s never stepped foot in it!

Abu Samir: Hell, I’ve never even been to my municipality either! We were registered erroneously in Akkar two generations ago and we’ve never been able to change it!

Abu Michel: Me too! I’ve never been to West Bekaa, but do you think that’s going to prevent me from impacting the lives of the poor schmucks who do live out there?

Abu Samir: Exactly! And so if it’s good enough for us, why shouldn’t it be good enough for Carlos Slim?

Abu Michel: And Shakira!

Abu Samir: Yasmine Bleeth!

Abu Michel: Salma Hayek!

Abu Samir: Keanu Reeves!

Abu Michel: Tiffany!

Abu Samir: And that hot chick who plays the Czech student in American Pie!

Abu Michel: You see? There are so many expatriate Christians… I mean, umm, Lebanese… who should not be deprived of their right to vote.

Abu Samir: I couldn’t agree more. Plus, if we let them vote in our elections, maybe they’ll finally start taking an interest in Lebanese affairs.

Abu Michel: Good point. If there’s one thing that Lebanon needs, it’s foreigners taking an interest in Lebanese affairs.

Abu Samir: Pass the sugar.


Thanks are due to the talented Maya Zankoul for the illustrations. To see previous collaborations between QN and Maya, click here.


52 thoughts on “Quid Pro Quo

  1. Sooooo funny!!!!!

    thank you for making my day 🙂

    Posted by Na! | January 27, 2010, 8:36 am
  2. Hit right where it hurts! Good one

    Posted by Liliane | January 27, 2010, 8:42 am
  3. How about Hannibal (as dead usually vote in Lebanon) ?

    Posted by danny | January 27, 2010, 9:25 am

    Posted by Tarek | January 27, 2010, 9:32 am
  5. A little bit of provocation here: expats cannot vote from abroad, but they are expected to keep sending ‘hawalas’ for their loved ones (and not so much loved ones) and investing in Lebanon, right?
    Cheers everyone.

    Posted by Voice from Brazil | January 27, 2010, 9:40 am
  6. “Voice from Brazil” I don’t think the point was not allowing Lebanese expats to vote, or that this right in anyway is a meaningless one. On the contrary, they deserve all the rights of a Lebanese citizen and if anything they should be given all kinds of encouragement to return. The point is WHO is asking for it (currently) and WHY?

    Posted by Tarek | January 27, 2010, 9:49 am
  7. Tarek, we need a Census in Lebanon, a broad census which include the diaspora, just like Italy does with their ‘oriundi’, for instance. Is it about time to do so. We cannot still delay this issue and keep wondering indefinitely who is behind it or why. One day it will have to be done. Don’t you agree?

    Posted by Voice from Brazil | January 27, 2010, 10:02 am
  8. Totally agree… AGAIN, no one (at least not me personally) is against giving rights to the expats… It’s just the intentions behind those raising the issue!
    (and yes even if they have bad intentions, it should not stop us from giving the expats their rights…)

    Posted by Tarek | January 27, 2010, 10:12 am
  9. About the issue of expats voting, everybody is talking about giving rights to the expats, but what are their responsibilities?

    Basically voting rights will be given to people that live in completely different political and economical environments, with little or no understanding of the real issues in the country. Imagine how easy it will be to manipulate those votes (most of them clueless what’s going on in Lebanon), and how much money will be spent to attract the expat vote. Unless you believe that the expats are mostly illuminated people with firsthand knowledge of the political situation here.

    What’s more, once they exercise their ‘divine’ right of voting, they will not be there to bear the political/economical/social consequences of their vote.

    Personally I will never cast a vote in a Lebanese election as long as I don’t live there.

    Posted by XP | January 27, 2010, 10:31 am
  10. XP, perhaps we do need a fresh, less involved voice to kinda refresh the political scene here…

    Plus, expats vote anyways… They’re all flown into Lebanon for free election season… Now they’ll cost less to vote!

    Posted by Tarek | January 27, 2010, 10:44 am
  11. As far as I am concerned, I never voted in Lebanese elections and never will. The point is that I defend my right to vote, if I wish so. My guess is that XP is preaching a rupture between Lebanon and its huge diaspora. If I am right, so XP should think again about it. By the way, do have a look South of the border and try to realize what is their main strenght there. Today I am here to provoke some reflections – and also to be provoked by strong arguments. I am sure this will be useful to the whole picture that QN intended to paint in the first place.

    Posted by Voice from Brazil | January 27, 2010, 12:12 pm
  12. Haha, this is hilarious. I love it.

    Posted by Nasser Victor | January 27, 2010, 12:26 pm
  13. Voice from Brasil,
    You can only vote in Israeli elections if you actually are in Israel (except embassy and consulate staff). That is just like the case in Lebanon. Over the years, we had public discussions about it in Israel and there was a pretty unanimous agreement in the end that it is a bad idea to let expats vote outside of Israel. Expats tend to be more radical because they have “no skin in the game”. They will not suffer the consequences if they make a bad vote and therefore, it is not a good idea to let them vote abroad.

    Posted by AIG | January 27, 2010, 12:55 pm
  14. So speaking of the quids and the quos, Hassan Tajideen? Anyone?

    Posted by david | January 27, 2010, 2:12 pm
  15. Killing 80 innocent people, to get 1 person is not the modus operandi of any of Hezbollahs enemies. Let’s wait patiently for the black box analysis. The 737-800 is not a plane that will go down because of lightning. Indeed, this is a tragic mystery.

    Posted by AIG | January 27, 2010, 3:12 pm
  16. Sorry AIG, in the case of Israel I was not talking about absentee votes, but, yes, about the strong links between the country and its diaspora. This is your strenght: unity. And this is what is lacking to the Lebanese in their country and abroad. Until we change our mentality of sectarianism (which is in the best interest of Israel, btw) we will continue to be bombed by your “defense” forces. In my view, we Lebanese and of Lebanese descent should learn good things from the others. Unity, particularly among people from different religions and communities who live in the same country, is one such a thing. If you know what I mean…

    Posted by Voice from Brazil | January 27, 2010, 3:12 pm
  17. Sadly , this is another illustration of the low level of what passes for political leadership in Lebanon. Do what you must in order to preserve the privileges of the current leadership, democracy, be damned.

    Do you know that Armenia resolved this issue of having more people of an Armenian descent outside Armenia than within the country by banning non residents from voting as of 2006.
    Do you know that the UK , one of the most liberal countries , places a 16 year limit after which a non-resident cannot vote.
    Does anyone really expect the 100 odd consulates to be able to handle more than a thousand votes each?
    Do you know that in the US absentee ballots are not counted unless the vote is close? i.e Under normal circumstances absentee vote represents a very small percentage of the total vote.
    Why would anyone want to create a system that takes away from the residents their most cherished right?
    The Lebanese Christian leaders have demonstrated their utter incompetence to lead and to be productive. They will resort to anything to maintain their disproportionate power and keep on asking for more. Unfortunately they are convinced that they are exceptional and they find nothing wrong in the Orwellian logic that some are more equal than others provided they are the most equal. What a farce.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 27, 2010, 3:18 pm
  18. AIG,

    I think part of the reason why it is not allowed to vote abroad in Israel is because of the effect this would have on Likud. The American Jewish population tends to be much less hawkish than Israeli Jews, and this would surely greatly affect elections.

    Posted by Nasser Victor | January 27, 2010, 4:30 pm
  19. I think it is a mistake to simplify this question through a yes/no answer. Life is not digital.

    But I loved this post Elias : ) … it does not matter if you live in Lebanon or not, YOU and most of your brilliant contributers to this blog have a right to vote more than the set of leaders living in Lebanon.

    AIG … are you saying that American Jews are more radical than Israeli voters inside Israel who gave us your illustrious foreign minister and his equally fine assistant Danny Ayalon?

    Posted by Alex | January 27, 2010, 4:42 pm
  20. Alex and Nasser,

    You are conflating between two things:
    1) American Jews
    2) Israeli citizens living in the US

    The latter are much more right wing than the average Israeli voter, and it would help the Likud if they voted. But as I said, that doesn’t make sense. In order for a responsible vote to happen, people must suffer the consequences of their vote.

    Same goes for American Jews. They of course should not vote until they become Israeli citizens and live in Israel. If they want to influence Israeli politics, that is what they should do. It is one thing supporting a policy from NY and another thing supporting the same policy in Sderot while missiles are landing on your head. You can afford to take chances if you know that you are not taking any risks.

    That is why it is crazy to let the Lebanese diaspora vote. It is just the stupidest idea ever.

    Posted by AIG | January 27, 2010, 5:02 pm
  21. Voice form Brazil,

    Israel is a nation state. Lebanon is not.
    The Jews have defined themselves as a nation. The Lebanese are not there yet. Most are still loyal to their sect.

    So talking about unity while ignoring this elephant in the room in my opinion is not constructive. Self determination is an inner conviction. You cannot force it. It has to come naturally. And it is just not in the cards for Lebanon where many of the most liberal of Christians soundly reject equal weight to all Lebanese voters. How can you build a nation around this state of mind that clearly shows that the Christians view themselves as Lebanese++ and not as Lebanese?

    Posted by AIG | January 27, 2010, 5:12 pm
  22. Just to make clear, I am not criticizing the Christians for demanding representation above their actual numbers. It could be the only way for them to survive. I am just saying, that it is not a state of mind conducive to building a cohesive state. If there is ever going to be a united Lebanese nation, the frame of mind of the Christians (and others) will have to change significantly.

    Posted by AIG | January 27, 2010, 5:19 pm
  23. Alex,
    I thought you would recommend the Syrian system. After all, it is the fairest:
    Nobody gets to really vote (except for show), neither the locals nor the diaspora and as you keep saying in on SC, this is your preferred system for Syria for the next 5-10 years.

    Seriously, this is just another example why expats should not vote. Alex has no problem living in Canada and enjoying the benefits of a democratic society while advocating for Asad and his totalitarian regime in Syria to stay in power. Really, why should Alex care about the rights of the Syrian people? After all, he does not suffer the consequences of the Syrian repression.

    Posted by AIG | January 27, 2010, 5:34 pm
  24. I’m opposed to lowering the age of vote to 18 because I don’t believe that the young Lebanese (in general) are politically mature enough at 18 to choose their own political affiliation and would end up voting for whoever their family/community dictates to them. Most Lebanese are exposed to other people with different backgrounds only after leaving school. We should give those three years a chance at influencing the young voter’s choices.

    But this should have nothing to do with the expats issue. Playing the numbers game is dumb, you might win some points in the short run, but you’ll always loose in the long run.
    Specially when you are a party that supposedly calls for the establishment of a secular state.

    Posted by mas | January 27, 2010, 6:08 pm
  25. mas: ‘I don’t believe that the young Lebanese (in general) are politically mature enough at 18 to choose their own political affiliation and would end up voting for whoever their family/community dictates to them.’
    So you are saying the average Lebanese voter is 18 or younger? Because this is how 90% or so of the Lebanese vote…

    Posted by zentor | January 27, 2010, 8:14 pm
  26. AIG,

    Well, it seems that Ali Tajideen was also on board. I am assuming (quite possibly erroneously) that this fellow is related to both Hassan and Kassim, who was designated by Treasury last spring, and possibly the fellow cited in earlier reports of HA supporters buying land north of the Litani.

    If these are the same guys (not just ‘cousins’ a la libanaise) and USG can be believed, we have a bad day for HA financing, at the very least.

    Weirdly, Prothero cites “Ali’s uncle” in his recent article in the National, but does not name him (think about it, although not too hard).

    Does anyone know if these are all the same guys? Or just two of the many Alis and Hassans with the last name Tajideen in southern Lebanon?

    Posted by david | January 27, 2010, 11:49 pm
  27. David:

    Yeah, it’s apparently the same guys. I don’t know about buying land, but he definitely doled out lots of money for social services programs…

    Posted by sean | January 28, 2010, 1:52 am
  28. zentor,

    Obviously, voting along family dictates is widespread, but a 21-year old+ who’s been exposed to what other options are out there has more of a chance of challenging that. Even when that person ends up following the family/community’s political affiliation, it would be more of a choice than a “you do what we tell you to do”.

    Posted by mas | January 28, 2010, 4:12 am
  29. With the remittances they send reaching close to 20% of the nation’s GDP, I do find it somehow unfair that Lebanese expatriates don’t have the right to vote. Recently, it is more and more usual to have the bread earner outside Lebanon while wife and children stay in the country. I guess the matter is complicated (the subject would be complicated even in a NORMAL country (lol), and I don’t know how many of the millions of people of Lebanese origin are still owners of Lebanese nationality. In principle, however, I am definitely in favor of the idea that a passport should give you the right to vote, no matter where you live.
    Mas (# ), do you really know any 18 year old that would obey to the order “you do what we tell you to do”?? I would swear that species had disappeared!! lol

    Posted by mj | January 28, 2010, 6:13 am
  30. AIG,
    I’m afraid you didn’t get it. I would advise you to read carefully what I’ve written. But if you want to discuss the issues in your terms, so I can tell that I’d rather live in and try to fix the problems of an inclusive society like Lebanon’s than to live in an exclusive society like yours. Unfortunately the future is not a bubble (or a resort, for this matter). In the Middle East – as elsewhere – we are destined (or doomed, if you like) – to coexist, not to eliminate the other from our way. D’you get it now?
    That’s all, folks. I’m switching off.

    Posted by Voice from Brazil | January 28, 2010, 8:06 am
  31. My grandparents were lebanese and came to brazil at the beginning of the 20th century. I did all the work to make my fathar get his lebanese citizenship so I could get mine. I have been to lebanon for the first time in 2005 on my own to try to vote, but I couldn’t because of lack of voting paper. In 2009 I went again and this time I could cast my vote and I can’t express how greatfull and fulfilling it was, I kept showing my purple finger to everyone, I supposed one have to live away to understand it. I intend to vote again in 2013 whether in Lebanon or Brazil. I know some people here in Rio de Janeiro that would like to vote too because they care about Lebanon, some of us here choose to be LEBANESE and care about LEBANON out of love not by obligation of birth place.
    Manipulation happens wherever you are. It doesn’t mean that just because you are in Lebanon you are immune to manipulation, all the contrary. For what I can see that is a common place in lebanon and its sectarism first politics.
    I hope some day all this will be left behind and all that will matter is to turn lebanon into a real Nation for all of us.
    So the bottom line is voting in absence shouldn’t be a problem if the aim is the betterment of the people


    Posted by Alberto | January 28, 2010, 1:54 pm
  32. Alberto,

    So are you saying there is one faction that aims to better the people, while the others do not? How can you be sure you are choosing the correct faction? I guarantee the Lebanese are all very divided on who will better the people. What makes you think you know best, especially if you’re not living there?

    Posted by Nasser Victor | January 28, 2010, 7:36 pm
  33. Nasser,

    I can`t recall saying anything about faction, nor even knowing better than anyone but if you say so who am I to disagree. Are the people in Lebanon better now?
    If they are so forget what I wrote before about being one and sole nation, but if they are not so something is not right. Why don`t just ask the people what they want and let them choose? And what does it have to do with the fact that I want to vote abroad? It seems you are the one making assumptions out of nothing.


    Posted by alberto | January 28, 2010, 9:22 pm
  34. To vote you have to take a side. Maybe ‘faction’ was bad word choice, but that doesn’t change the fact that you believe you are helping the Lebanese by taking a side. If you aren’t living there, how can you know how to vote? Someone made a great point earlier: if I could vote in Syrian affairs, I’d probably stick with Assad (because of his pretty tough anti-Zionist policy). This would obviously not be my choice if I lived in Syria and experienced his regime’s wrath. Factors that should be external cloud your vision when you are looking from the outside.

    Posted by Nasser Victor | January 29, 2010, 3:41 am
  35. Really funny, Elias.

    The comedic conversation reminds me of the election I voted in, here in the US back in June.

    I used my father’s 40 year old Imperial Iranian passport, which included a listing and group photo of the family, to vote in the Iranian presidential election.

    You should have seen the looks on the poll workers! It was definitely the oldest paperwork they’d ever seen. But they let me vote!

    I guess this is the sort of thing your characters are frowning upon. But hey, I have lived and studied in Iran, for a short period of my life. That counts for something.

    For Iranians, citizenship is automatically passed from the father to the children. (My mother is American.) Is that the way it is for Lebanese?

    Posted by Pirouz | January 29, 2010, 5:16 am
  36. Nasser,

    Sometimes you have to distance yourself in order to have a better view of the situation. What I think is important to Lebanon is to have a strong state with strong institutions working for the benefit of the people no matter who delivers it. If Lebanon wants to be a real democracy people will have to respect the diferences and learn to live with that. Give the people a chance. The right to vote in absence!


    Posted by alberto | January 29, 2010, 5:56 am
  37. I have tried to restrain myself from commenting in order not to repeat myself since I have been working on a post on who is an expat, who has the right to vote etc…
    Well, I cannot resist but to say something that I hope will be helpful to the discussion.
    There appears to be a lot of confusion in most of the above posts due to definitions and language use. An expat is a different specie than an immigrant and a second or third generation immigrant is radically different from either of the above. The above groups do not have the same rights neither do they have the same obligations.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 29, 2010, 9:19 am
  38. Ghassan,

    I can’t see the difference cause the lebanese citizenship is based on blood line, once you get it you have all the same rights, no matter where you are born, isn’t it?.

    As an example, brazilians can vote abroad when it is President elections, and just for President.


    Posted by Alberto | January 29, 2010, 11:14 am
  39. I agree with Ghassan’s last statement to an extent. Personally, I feel that an Expat and an immigrant can be on the same level assuming that the immigrant is directly affected by the political situation in their country of origin.

    For example, my husband has been in the States for 20 years and now holds dual-citizenship, therefore considered an immigrant. We go back to Lebanon (at the very least) every other year. His entire family lives in Lebanon. We own property and have bank accounts there, and contribute to the economy on various levels. Therefore, we are directly affected by the political and economic situation in Lebanon.

    Alberto – can YOU or your father say the same thing? I’m sorry, but the first time you set foot on Lebanese soil was about 10 years ago and although I’m sincerely glad to hear that you take an interest in your roots, I have to wonder, how are YOU directly affected by the day-to-day politics of Lebanon that would warrent your right to partake in Lebanese elections?

    My personal thoughts on the overall situation . . . if you’re living outside of Lebanon and can show a clear and undisputed connection to the country’s day-to-day happenings (i.e., a financial interest or spend a pre-defined amount of time in the country between elections) then you should be given the right to vote from outside the country. On that same note, I think that anyone who wants the right to vote outside of Lebanon should also have to take a language proficiency exam before being allowed to vote. I’m sorry, but my thought on the matter is, if you can’t understand the language and live outside of the country then how the heck do you know what’s going on over there (let alone how you are affected by it). Don’t tell me that you’re keeping up with Lebanon’s day-to-day if you can’t even understand what is being reported by the Lebanese news agencies.

    Posted by a voice from NY | January 29, 2010, 12:18 pm
  40. Voice from NY,

    One doesn’t need to be affected directly to have a right to take part.

    what about your last comments do they applys also for those living in lebanon?.

    what are you people afraid of? what is that you fear and nobody says it out loud here?


    Posted by Alberto | January 29, 2010, 1:24 pm
  41. I have nothing to fear, however, I do question whether or not you would have enough information or interest to properly (or should I say knowledgebly) cast a vote in Lebanon.

    How can someone like you, who isn’t affected with the day-to-day of Lebanon cast a vote and then walk away? You don’t have to live with the ramifications of that vote you cast because you’re so far removed from the situation. Just because your grandfather was born in Lebanon, I don’t think you should have a say in how the country functions because at the end of day, it doesn’t affect you.

    Other than marriage, I have NO blood connection to Lebanon but I sure as to hell have more of a core interest in what happens over there because it directly affects me on various levels. Example – as stated earlier, I own property over there . . . if I feel like making home improvements to any of my properties, then I add to the economy by hiring Lebanese workers, and purchasing improvement goods from a local home improvement store. By that same token, if my tenants can’t find work, they can’t pay the rent. Therefore, I am directly affected by (and affecting) the economy on several levels. I’m further affected by the fact that if (God forbid) either of my in-laws falls ill and for whatever reason can’t afford treatment – that’s my problem to deal with. If something (God forbid) were to happen to Lebanon’s banking industry, my money at Bank Audi and HSBC Beirut are at risk. Can you say the same for yourself?

    I must ask . . . had you found yourself in Lebanon when the war broke out in 2006, would you have stuck around for the duration, or would you have been on the first flight or ship back to Brazil? My husband arrived in Beirut early that morning and stayed not only for the duration but extended his stay by an additional 3 weeks to help. He stayed because of his emotional and blood connection to the land and he couldn’t turn his back on everything he holds so dear. Would you be able to say the same for yourself? Is there anything back there worth putting your own life on the line?

    Alberto – as a person who has the right to vote in Lebanon, if the Lebanese government turned around and stated that all who hold citizenship must register for military service – would you be so quick to keep that passport? Would you be willing to fight and die for Lebanon? Or are you just looking for some cool pics for your facebook page of yourself with purple ink on your finger?

    That is part of what the “obligation” Ghassan mentions. If you’re so willing to partake in Lebanon’s politics and help make decisions that directly affect people’s lives, then you had better be prepared to personally deal with the ramifications of those same decisions.

    As for my last statement from my earlier post which you question . . . again, if someone is LIVING in Lebanon then, unlike YOU, they are DIRECTLY affected by the situation and have a clear and definate interest and obligation to participate. In other words, sorry, but I think an Ethopian maid or a 2nd generation Palestinian refugee has more right to that vote than you do because at the end of the day, they live with the shit the elected politicians excrete on the nation . . . whereas you sit a thousands of miles away staring at images you don’t even understand on LBC.

    Posted by a voice from NY | January 29, 2010, 2:11 pm
  42. On a side note – you question the so-called fears of those who share my view . . . I have the same question for you . . . what are YOU afraid of? Considering you have no direct interest in Lebanon’s day-to-day (because it doesn’t personally affect you), why are you so headstrong on having a say in Lebanon’s politics? Considering you’re thousands of miles away, and so far removed from the situation, what do YOU have to gain by having a voice in the lives of those who live there?

    Posted by a voice from NY | January 29, 2010, 2:49 pm
  43. Alberto,, a voice from NY,
    Let me add to what I said earlier especially with reference to what Alberto is saying: citizenship does not imply automatic right to vote in most countries of the world. In a sense universal suffrage is a sham that does not exist, has never existed and will never exist.

    Keep in mind also that there is a big difference between giving someone the right to vote and actually putting in place the required structure to allow one to exercise that vote.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 29, 2010, 3:28 pm
  44. Voice from NY,

    I have some interests in Lebanon, mainly relatives, that is enough for me to care.

    I didn’t know I could throw my citizenship away. I am aware of everything that comes with it.

    You should be worried with those that live in Lebanon, they are the ones who are making it what it is today.

    Let the people choose what they want after all that is how things works in a democracy…

    One thing is not clear on your posts, You think we couldn’t vote at all? we can be called to fight in a war but we cannot vote whether in Lebanon or not. It doesn’t looks fair.

    Again, What are you afraid of?


    Posted by Alberto | January 29, 2010, 3:54 pm
  45. Ghassan,

    brazilians can vote for president while abroad.

    Posted by Alberto | January 29, 2010, 4:04 pm
  46. Alberto – your 2nd to last paragraph doesn’t make any sense therefore I’m unable to address it.

    Now, it is you who have stated (and I quote) . . .

    “You should be worried with those that live in Lebanon, they are the ones who are making it what it is today.

    Let the people choose what they want after all that is how things works in a democracy…”

    It is percisely those who LIVE in Lebanon that I worry about and it is THOSE same people who should have the sole right to make decisions that impact their day-to-day lives . . . NOT people like you who are 2 generations removed from the land and have no other impact on their lives other than the occassional visit to a few cousins every few years.

    That, my friend is the difference. Your cousins and my in-laws who actually live there have to deal with the everyday . . . so what right should YOU have to make any impact on the lives of MY family, through your political voice when you don’t even live there and probably can’t even properly greet them an Arabic let alone have any clue as to what hardships they face.

    You cannot possibly put yourself on the same level as your cousins, or my in-laws or my husband for that matter. By your own admission, your own father didn’t care enough about his country to persue his own citizenship – you had to do it for him and he certainly didn’t care enough to take you back home on his own. Therefore, what makes you think you should be afforded the same rights as your cousins who were born & raised in Lebanon and continue to live there? Or my husband who continues to contribute to the country in every aspect?

    What am I afraid of? Here goes . . . people like YOU having a voice in the lives of the people that matter most . . . those who actually LIVE and work there. It is THOSE people who have to deal with any half assed vote you cast from a few thousand miles away . . . a vote that has ZERO impact on your own life but every possible impact on the lives of those who I hold dear – those that actually LIVE there. It is you who said “Let the people choose . . .”; therefore why should you have a choice or impact in THEIR lives?

    Now, what is it that YOU fear?

    Posted by a voice from NY | January 29, 2010, 4:23 pm
  47. BTW – sorry (especially to Elias and Ghassan) . . . I know this topic was originally about the ExPat vote and the differences between an ExPat, an immigrant and decendants of those immigrants are wide ranging. I guess my gripe isn’t so much with the ExPat vote, but more with voting rights to decendants of immigrants. I guess as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think 1st, 2nd or 3rd generationers should have any say in the lives of those it matters to most . . . those who have to wake up everyday and deal with the consequences of any vote cast by someone who lives thousands of miles away and isn’t affected by the energy problem, for example.

    Posted by a voice from NY | January 29, 2010, 4:42 pm
  48. a voice from NY said:
    “I guess my gripe isn’t so much with the ExPat vote, but more with voting rights to decendants of immigrants. I guess as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think 1st, 2nd or 3rd generationers should have any say in the lives of those it matters to most . . . those who have to wake up everyday and deal with the consequences of any vote cast by someone who lives thousands of miles away and isn’t affected by the energy problem, for example.”

    Thank you for framing the argument correctly. No other country frames it any differently especially when in the special case of Lebanon offering the vote to 11 million who live abroad will in effect disenfranchise those that live at home 🙂

    I repeat, the Lebanese politicians are not as concerned about the vote as they are about the relative proportion of the number of Lebanese in each sect. This is the last hurrah for the extremely disappointing and bigoted Chrisyian Lebanese church and political leaders. They are simply interested in adding say six million Christians to the rolls irrespective of whether there is a mechanism to make that vote a reality or not. Remember that a 100 consulates cannot handle more than potentially a hundred thousand votes abyway and Lebanon is not about to have electronic voting. It is all such a cynical political ploy by the leaders of the church and their political minions. When would the Christian Lebanese ever realize that their salvation is not to create barriers and ploys to show that they are an imaginary majority but to shed sectarianism.

    Posted by ghassan karam | January 29, 2010, 6:03 pm
  49. First off, very nice artistic illustration Maya. I like how Aboul Meesh likes to read AlSaffir, while Samir likes AlNahar.

    Several subjects that have been touched off in this discussion are interconnected, and basically lead to the debate of whether or not to migrate to a secular governing platform.

    I think this debate is healthy, especially if it is carried out in good faith among the various parties with the objective of having a better governing system, where a citizen will have allegiance to the state instead of to a sect. To get there genuine fears and assurances have to be addressed.

    Now as far as lowering the voting age, I think it’s a good idea, especially if things went secular, as it gives the young folks a mechanism to participate in the system (empowerment).

    On the metgharbeen being able to vote or not, I’m with Ghassan on this, there should be a distinction between an expat working overseas and an immigrant who swore allegiant to another country.

    The real debate here is why are christians (Maronites in particular) opposed to the change. Two things come to mind.

    One is fear of loosing the alloted Taef distribution for economic (government jobs) and political representation reasons. Heck, some are still hoping to restore the old formula, and decrying Taef.

    Second, is the fear of ending up as a very marginalized and persecuted minority, as has happened in other ME countries. These fears are genuine and need to be addressed in a forcefull way in the transition process and any revamped constitution. Lebanese christians look accross the ME and they don’t like what they see, and for a good reason. They need solid assurances that they can carry on with there own way of life. Bottom line, these fears should be addressed.

    Posted by Ras Beirut | January 29, 2010, 10:21 pm
  50. Hilarious dialogue, can’t get enough of reading it!
    By the way, you forgot Mika in the list 😛

    Posted by maya zankoul | January 30, 2010, 5:53 pm
  51. Dude, no. Tiffany is Syrian (as I just learned) and Yasmine Bleeth is Algerian! And Keanu Reeves, really, just because he was born in Beirut?

    Man, get your ’80s pop culture heroes straight!

    😉 Loved it.

    Posted by Jillian C. York | February 2, 2010, 11:36 pm


  1. Pingback: Lowering the Voting Age: No Real Impact on Christian-Muslim Voters? « Qifa Nabki | A Lebanese Political Blog - February 5, 2010

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