If Only Georges Abdallah’s Freedom were Contagious

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They have realized that keeping Georges hostage has become more costly than to release him. (Photo: Alia Haju)

By: Ibrahim al-Amin

Published Monday, January 28, 2013

The French government decided to submit to US and Israeli pressure and extended the imprisonment of Georges Abdallah.

Neither the French state nor the government have the slightest sense that they are committing a terrible injustice. They simply don’t feel that anyone can make them pay the price for their 28-year-old crime against Abdallah.

The French today are imposing additional conditions to releasing Georges, in addition to just buying time. They want to do it secretly, so that their dirty work will not see the light of day.

They want the occasion of his welcome in Lebanon to be under the cover of night, at an unannounced time of their choosing. They want him to celebrate alone with his family, so that his victory over his terrorist jailers will pass unnoticed. They even want the pathetic Lebanese state to guarantee that Abdallah’s release will take place according to their wishes.

More than that, the French are asking for all expressions of solidarity to end, such as dismantling the sit-in at the French embassy in Beirut.

They want the Lebanese to be thankful to them for having decided to release Georges. They want his family to write the French authorities letters of gratitude for setting their son free. They want us to be like them, to admit that we are terrorists too, without morals or a sense of humanity.

They have realized that keeping Georges hostage has become more costly than to release him, for they are bound to pay the price of their crime sooner or later. They also understand that persisting in their kidnapping of Georges will open the gates of hell on them, something they have experienced before with every place they colonized.

Their intelligence sources in Lebanon and the region are warning them that the dangers stemming from the continued detention of Georges are increasing by the day. The threat is not just coming from a small group of angry men, or a wronged family.

One source recently informed anyone who was willing to listen in Paris that there is a generation of young people – some who even lived and studied in France – who are angry enough to commit acts that will cause the government big problems both internally and abroad. But we have to ask our own government a few questions.

It is true that Rafik Hariri – whether in government or outside it – never raised the issue with his friend former president Jacques Chirac. It is also true that successive Lebanese presidents and prime ministers have also failed to raise the matter of Georges’ imprisonment, not out of fear of the French, but of Georges himself, who they considered to be a terrorist worthy of punishment.

But to be fair, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and his government have dealt realistically with the issue, forcing Paris to take notice that high-level Lebanese officials are asking about their kidnapped citizen.

Despite this, there are those at the official level who “understand” the demands of the French government, which wants the release of Georges to resemble the return of a wanted criminal in Lebanon’s courts.

Others in the halls of power suggest that we must seriously take into account French and American concerns over the release, as they try to strike a deal behind the scenes that will put a limit to any public celebrations, or at least prevent the participation of any government officials in them.

There will also be those who will call for a dose of realism in dealing with this matter. They may even be members of Georges’ family or from among his close friends and supporters, who believe that we shouldn’t blow things out of proportion.

Some of them may not think it necessary, for example, that state officials be part of any welcoming ceremony. But the criminal behavior of the French state in dealing with the issue requires precisely the opposite.

Georges’ freedom should be celebrated by both citizens and the state – the way he is received in Lebanon is now as important as his release. The symbolism of the way he is welcomed here has one simple goal: the possibility that his freedom will infect those who have surrendered among us to imagine that they do love life.

Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.


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