Leave Hashish Alone!
By: Ibrahim al-Amin
Published Saturday, August 4, 2012
Given the Lebanese tendency for random acts of solidarity, there ought to be mass demonstrations in Beirut tonight in support of the people of the Baalbak-Hermel district.
This time, it should not only be the poor who demonstrate. There is no need for tire-burning or blocking roads in Beirut or the provinces by the touffar (outlaws) hiding out in the mountains, or their children living in the alleyways of the capital’s northern or southern suburbs.
This time, we ought to see ‘original’ Lebanese take to the streets in their thousands, even tens of thousands – from the districts of Gemmayze, Monot, Hamra, Raouche and Ain al-Mreisseh; from the various parts of Solidere-land, old and new; and from all of the nightspots, open or underground, which dot the coast from Tyre in the South to Chekka in the North.
This time, the protest should be joined by contingents of resident foreigners, including diplomats, intelligence agents and journalists – and also by our fellow Arabs from the Gulf states who refused to heed their governments’ orders or advice not to visit Lebanon.
This time, much of our country’s elite should join in too, be they the shining stars of Beirut's nightlife, former or future MPs and ministers, or office-holders in every department, agency or branch of the state and from every part of the country.
They should all take to the streets, individually or in groups, and march to the headquarters of the Drug Enforcement Bureau, or to army and gendarmerie barracks, in protest at the damage done to their interests – and their moods – by the ongoing destruction of the hashish crop in the Bekaa Valley.
They should take up the cry in unison: For my sake... For Lebanon’s sake... Stop destroying hashish!
Nobody in our country could reject the authority of a genuine state. Nobody wants the agencies that represent the authority and power of the state to be trashed and humiliated constantly. Nobody opposes the enforcement of the public law.
But what this country has witnessed since its illusory independence – through hot and cold civil wars, to the traumatic birth-pangs we are currently experiencing – has smartened us up a bit. This has prevented us from being trodden on daily, or from turning into dreamers awaiting the great day of judgement whose onset would relieve all God’s creatures.
All our past experiences have shown us that the collective mind in Lebanon is dominated by cronyism, trickery, half-truths and suchlike. Like a game of Russian roulette, all depends on luck, and those who have none need not bother.
I tried hashish once but was admitted to hospital because, according to a sworn expert, I didn’t ingest it properly. Yet I share the view of the majority of Lebanese who do not partake of this substance, but either resort to chemical drugs which have the same effect in order to cope with life in the land of unending insanity, or cannot afford the medical equivalent. What the state does annually in the northern Bekaa should be considered a crime.
There is no cure for the growing misery. The provisions of the law cannot feed the hungry. There are no national policies to provide for the needy or sick. And there are not enough fatwas in all the religions to persuade people to accept penury and humiliation.
None of our statesmen can persuade us that the authorities in Turkey, Morocco and Afghanistan are better able than us at getting the world to pay compensation for halting the planting of hashish.
No one can convince us that the money earmarked for alternative crops doesn’t go into the pockets of charlatans, who get their personal supplies of hashish by sending their errand-boys to roadsides near Yammouneh late at night to buy it. Nobody can persuade us that the foreign parties concerned have our interests at heart, when their representatives in Lebanon ask their Lebanese chauffeurs to ensure they get Baalbaki hashish because it’s the best in the world.
So let’s have no more phoney displays of heroism from this government, like those that its predecessor staged and its successors will attempt. Let the army and police go where they ought to, and raid the palatial dens of the gangsters who rob the country and deprive it of electricity, water, schools and hospitals. Let the security forces go after the corrupt, whose identities they know name by name.
The truth is bitter, hard perhaps for anyone to accept, but we can still entreat:
God, protect the touffar, and help them evade the eyes of the informers – official and unofficial!
God, divert the wheels of the army and police trucks heading for the area!
God, make the green fields invisible to those who would turn them into the color of ash and death!
God, plant the fear of the farmers in the hearts of their persecutors, and free the poor peasants from fear of unjust authority!
God, bring down your wrath on the chastity-preaching harlots of our age... and deprive them of hashish!
God, tie the tongues of the media and journalists, truth-tellers and liars alike, and make all the television channels repeat the lyrics of Hermel’s touffar rap crew.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.