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Lebanon: Nobody's There…Don't Call - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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As if domestic Lebanese troubles and disputes were not enough, the Lebanese know how to add new problems to their lives and increase the number of people who are angry at them! The latest group of people to join this illustrious list are the Sudanese. Arabs unanimously agree that the Sudanese are a kind and peaceful people, and there are a considerable number of Sudanese people living in Lebanon, working respectably and efficiently in various fields there. These are fields that the Lebanese have abandoned, passing them onto others at a time when Lebanon is suffering from unemployment and a lack of job opportunities. In the past few days, the Lebanese police arrested a group of Sudanese migrant workers, and news has been leaked that these Sudanese workers were treated harshly by those who arrested them.

This news resulted in a series of accusations and condemnations from the Sudanese, with some Lebanese people demanding that the government and security apparatus issue a formal apology to the migrant workers in question. The Lebanese government initially offered excuses saying that it must first investigate the incident in order to confirm what really happened, although the government later came out refusing to apologize.

This new scene in this Lebanese drama took place following discussions regarding sending a Gaza-bound aid ship from Lebanon to attempt to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza, in a “time-honored” scene where some rivals are attempting to adopt the idea [of breaking the blockade] and politically exploit this, while others are seeking to renounce this and avoid its political consequences. However considering the fact that this is the season of over-exaggeration with regards to support for Gaza, why isn’t everybody participating in this? This is the situation surrounding the aid ship that is bound for Gaza, however the Lebanese seem to have forgotten about the Gaza that exists in their midst, namely the Palestinian refugee camps that are filled with misery.

Humanitarian cases that are difficult to describe are being completely ignored by charitable institutes, religious organizations, and spiritual leaders. This is something that was made abundantly clear in the statement made by the leader of the Lebanese Maronite Church, Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir in response to a question about the condition of the Palestinians in Lebanon and why they are not provided with assistance in order to improve the quality of life within the Palestinian camps. Sfeir answered by saying that Lebanon hardly fits its own population.

Lebanon is indeed a country of wonders! However complains of migrant workers being mistreated is not something limited to the Lebanese, but also Ethiopians, other African countries, Sri Lankans, Egyptians, and Syrians, have also faced similar accusations. So of course the Lebanese are not the only ones who have contrived to treat others badly, this is a defect that different Middle Eastern countries share, and is something that reflects an imbalance between regimes and laws that need to be activated and applied on the ground. However the Lebanese case remains interesting due to the fragility and vulnerability of Lebanese society. I do not know the future of the Lebanese service and tourist industries (which the Lebanese are extremely proud of today) if the third world migrant workers abandon it! These workers are employed in offices, kitchens, gas stations, storehouses, warehouses, garages, and other fields that the Lebanese no longer consent to work in. This is something that would result in these industries declining, or perhaps even being destroyed.

The Sudanese workers crisis, and the Lebanese government’s mishandling of this, is unacceptable for a country that has always boasted of its liberties and civil rights. I wonder if these migrant workers would have received the same treatment if they were from France, Canada, or Italy? Therefore, this is my advice to the Sudanese brothers; change your nationality in Lebanon to Ukrainian, and you will see the difference.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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