THU 19 - 9 - 2019
Jun 19, 2019
The Daily Star
Say no to racism
It’s safe to say that we have seen tolerance for racism around the world drop drastically in recent decades, even in Africa and South America. In fact, in many places, racism is considered as vile as Nazism, and even a single racist slur can wreck the careers of seemingly impervious politicians, celebrities and athletes.
So it can only come as a shock to discover that the blight is alive and thriving right in our own country, with some politicians and their supporters unabashedly propagating this despicable mindset by targeting Syrian refugees within their spheres of influence.
Implementing policies that establish curfews for Syrians, prevent gatherings of more than three at any given place, and prohibit them from riding motorcycles, is reminiscent of the dark times in apartheid South Africa, or the deep South of the United States in the 19th century.
This isn’t how we want to be portrayed before the rest of the world, more so because this mindset does not reflect the majority of Lebanese.
Certainly an eventual solution is needed for the Syrian presence in Lebanon, but to humiliate these already traumatized guests in such a manner is not the way, and will only exacerbate matters.
Those people promoting such policies would do well to remember that the Syrian refugees are here because Lebanon offered a sanctuary from the violence that gripped their home country, and trying to strip them of their dignity while they are vulnerable places a black mark on Lebanese society as a whole. This is especially true as the Lebanese in the past have sought safety in Syria on more than one occasion.
Most importantly, we must remember that Syrians will remain our neighbors until kingdom come, and to nurture feelings of animosity that will last for generations is really not in anyone’s best interests.
Irrespective of the isolated incidents that prompted such a response, this amounts to collective punishment, which is considered a war crime by the U.N., and the rest of the Lebanese will not sit idly by while certain officials make unilateral decisions that conflict with our values and harm the image of our country.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 18, 2019, on page 1.
The views and opinions of authors expressed herein do not necessarily state or reflect those of the Arab Network for the Study of Democracy
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