Monday, February 01, 2010

And so we're racist

Since the tragic incident of the Ethiopian Airline plane that crashed last Monday just after take-off, the ET409, which was leaving Beirut towards Addis Ababa, carried 90 passengers of several nationalities, mostly Lebanese (51), Ethiopians (31 - whom 8 were crew), two British, one Canadian, one French (the French Ambassador's wife in Beirut), one Iraqi, one Russian, one Syrian, and one Turkish, whom all are now presumed deceased.

After 7 days almost, around 30 bodies have been recovered, and the others are still in the deep Mediterranean sea.

In addition to how sad this incident is, how tragic and shocking its impact was on the families of these passengers, and how touched people in Lebanon and Ethiopia felt because of their country's involvement, there was an emotion that existed which I personally was very bothered when I read about it, and it was racism.

Lebanese have been accused as racist especially because many Lebanese hires domestic workers from several Asian and African countries including Ethiopia, and because some of those Lebanese mistreat their domestic workers. The persons who were from the Ethiopian nationality who were on that flight, were all domestic workers. Some of which have just finished their 3 years contact and are going back home.

Patrick Galey mentioned in his article here that Lebanon's racism was exposed due to this incident.  
A normally well-respected broadcaster conducted a live piece to camera outside a hospital with their Beirut correspondent on Monday night.
An Ethiopian, wracked with grief, unwittingly wondered into shot only to be literally hauled out of view by the Lebanese crew. Had she been Lebanese, it is unthinkable she would have been treated like this.
Moreover, in Simba Rousseau's blog "Witnessing Life", she humanly shed the light in her article here on an Ethiopian lady who migrated to Lebanon to work who rushed into the airport to see if she knows anyone who was on that plane:

According to Mebrat, when she other women arrived to the airport they saw Lebanese who had lost loved ones yelling at the Ethiopian women who were also mourning the deaths of their friends.
But what bothered some people the most, is when Elias Murr, the Lebanese Defence Minister, said:
A traffic control recording shows that the tower told the pilot to turn to avoid the storm, but the plane went in the opposite direction,
 He continued: 
We do not know what happened or whether it was beyond the pilot's control.
I personally thought it was premature for him to say something like that, he's usually more careful with his statements, but after a long day and the media hassling them on telling them the reason behind this crash, which basically is still not 100% known until now, because the black box is not recovered yet.

Hani Baal in his post that took part of Kolena Leila initiative that took place on the Arabic blogosphere in the last week of December 2009, he wrote about several Leilas, who are domestic workers in Lebanon and getting abused by their employers. The statistics say, one Leila (domestic worker in Lebanon) commits suicide per week. Shocking number.

The purpose of this post is not to deny the Lebanese racism, and not to defend it, it's just here to lay facts, possibly the reasons, and hopefully the possibility to end it.

The reasons why Lebanese are racist? I am no sociologist, but I think the war really messed us up. And yes, we should snap out of it and get over it already.

At first when I read some articles manifesting the Lebanese as racist, I was really upset with those writers, but deep inside I knew they were right. I don't know the exact number or percentage, but many Lebanese are racist, there are many degrees to it.

  • Some people in Lebanon think they're better than others, and when it comes to race, black are inferior to us (some people think).

  • Some people still call a black person a "slave", in Arabic "3abed". Need I say that slavery centuries ago was not exclusive to black people?

  • Some people in Lebanon still think that domestic workers are nothing but "maids" and "cleaners", and that they're not human beings, have no feelings, brains or emotions.

  • Some people in Lebanon do not give a day off to these domestic workers, make them work from dawn till after midnight.

But the ray of hope is that there are some Lebanese people who made an organization to defend those who don't have a voice, and lay down some better rules and law of labor for them.
As for the media? They did not do any worse than any other media that in any disaster focuses on their own sons and daughters.

For what it's worth, I'm sorry for what happened. Moreover, I truly am sad for those who were returning home to Ethiopia after years of work in Lebanon, whom some were abused, and some in prison, instead they left this world in a horrid way. I offer my condolences to the families of the victims of ET409 (whatever the nationality, Syrian, Iraqi, Canadian, French, Russion, Turkish, Ethiopian and Lebanese).

In the face of disaster, there is no nationality, there is simply a human being.



  1. نحن مجتمع غارق في العنصرية. لغتنا تحمل الكثير من العنف المباشر والمبطّن

    ع امل


  2. thank you for your comment! By the way we have a common friend, you'll probably hear from me soon :)

  3. I think that. and we have a common place too "captain's cabin"..

    waitin you :)

  4. Racism is everywhere in Lebanon. You should have seen the troubles I faced to get my then-fiancee a visa to Lebanon. The problem? She's Indian and Indians can only enter Lebanon on a domestic worker visa. Check the General Security website, it clearly states which nations are eligible to visit Lebanon for tourism.

  5. Hey Jad,
    I sent you an email to your email address ( check it.


  6. akid we're racist... inno chou mitwa2a3.. good post