Lebanese private beach in racism scandal

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, June 28, 2012

A leading Lebanese private beach was caught on camera appearing to refuse to permit entry to a woman based on the color of her skin.

In a YouTube video, published on Thursday but recorded earlier this month, the staff at the exclusive St Georges Beach Club in Beirut tell a black woman she cannot enter because she is not a member.

However when two Lebanese people arrive immediately after they are allowed to enter despite not having membership.

The manager of the beach is later seen defending the policy by saying that migrant workers are not allowed into the club.

He says that the beach's policy only permits migrant workers to enter if they are with their employers, but they are not allowed to swim in the pools.

“If a migrant worker were to come her with her employer and sit by the pool – she's still not allowed to swim in the pool,” he says.

Lebanon's expensive private beaches have long faced accusations of racism and the Ministry of Tourism earlier this summer passed a declaration banning discrimination of any form.

Farah Salka from the Anti-Racism Movement said she had been surprised by the positive reaction of the police, who have often been accused of ignoring racism.

But she warned that it was important the beach was punished severely to set an example to rivals.

"The police were super cooperative – this is something that was clear. They told the person who filed the complaint right on the spot that St Georges would be fined," she said.

"So far we applaud the unexpected cooperation of the police...but we need to see what the fine is. If the fine is going to take 6 months, or if it is just a few hundred dollars, that's nothing. If the fine is not going to be enough money to make them think again then we will go back to the Ministry of Tourism," she added.

Salka said the problem was much wider than just the St George, adding that they had found similar problems with other beaches.

"One month ago when the (government) decree was out we called 30-40 beaches on the phone to get preliminary answers. We put an act on saying "I am coming in with my maid" and over 90 percent told us she would not be permitted to enter," she said. "This is beyond horrific in 2012."

Nadim Houry, Human Rights Watch's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said much of Lebanese society still had racist attitudes towards migrant workers.

“This year the Ministry of Tourism issued a directive saying no to discrimination but we know its ongoing and I think this video captures it very well.”

“It is a wider problem and the issue is not just about access to private beach resort, its the way that people are treated because they are migrants and particularly perceived as poor migrants,” he said.

Houry too called for tough punishment for St Georges.

“What is more important is what the Lebanese tourism police are going to do. It is for the state that has been alerted and for us judge them on what they do,” he said.



as a Marketing Company owner, we believe that this issue is not to do with Racism as you're trying to over-react in your post, the FILTRATION should be made in every business.. just imagine a MAID is entering to a Private Gala Dinner of Fashion Designer..! should she sit with the other invitees on the same table..!!!!! Ah.. then major swimming pool in Lebanon as many other businesses such as fine restaurants.. etc are into filtration.. and this should not be taken as Racism.. try other words but God sake do not include it in any Racism..!

to Mark:

It's a racist policy - to make racist people happy with their swimming pools. Who are you trying to defend here?

if the society is racist it is not the fault of business owners, who only set policies that allow them to stay in business in a given environment. go solve the problem by educating the public and creating awareness about racism instead of finding a few scapegoats and punish them unfairly.

this is educating the public! Lebanese people such as yourself sir look at this incident as "normal", and "necessary" to please the clientele; that is wrong! That is plain out racism! I do not care what the racist narrow minded arrogant "clients" think! if they find that ALL the resorts enforce the law passed by the ministry of tourism they will realize THEY are wrong! By not complying to the law, resorts like St George (and they are many!!!) are encouraging racism. I hope you sir go to another country where, for the simple reason of being Lebanese, you are banned from entering a certain place because "it's bad for business since lebanese are thought to be terrorists"! I really wish you face this problem and then revisit your alibi!

guess what.. i don't need to go to another country to experience this... i went to a lebanese beach resort in jbeil with my brother... they did not allow us in because we had no females with us... i asked why... they said because groups of men without women are more likely to cause problems..... did i like that? no of course.... but is it racism or anti-men hatred? of course not..... point is, don't jump to conclusions when you don't understand an issue... remember that this is a business... if they turn away customers they make less money so they must have a good reason for doing so... a business has the right to refuse service to anyone for any reason... you don't have to approve of these reasons... i work freelance and i have the right to refuse a client for any reason i want... it's called freedom.... go solve the racism issue by educating kids and creating awareness.... then the beaches will have no incentives to have those policies....

I once went to Sporting beach at Manara, i had no maid with me... no, just me and my brother. "sorry ma'am, entrance for members only". when i asked about membership, the answer was: "membership info for members only, sorry. please let others pass." and the front desk guy immediately ushered another couple, who paid the entrance fee, mind you... pure racist filtration, but according to what? beats me.

the beach resorts are not racist... they are businesses... businesses only care about money... businesses don't have the luxury to be racist and turn away paying customers... but they set these policies because they think they will lose money because other customers will stop coming if their pools are filled with migrant workers... so if anybody is racist it's the customers, NOT the beaches.... some beaches do not allow in groups of people if they are made up only of men and don't have women with them... but that doesn't mean they hate men... but they do so because they think they will lose customers overall is they are seen as mostly male....maybe they are wrong but that's their motivation..... let us understand the issue before throwing accusations of racism everywhere


In my eyes, if you actually want "to understand the issue" rather than mystifying it further, you must begin from the point that, in Lebanon, racism, class, misogyny, sectarianism all interact in a large whole with the crony capitalist elite's stranglehold over society at large. With this in mind it makes no sense whatsoever to claim that St George are not racist but "society is" as if, in any meaningful way, one can separate out business//society/politics/etc. St George, by enforcing segregation policies, actually represent one of the social institutions through which the idea of racist segregation is normalised. All be it normalised in the eyes of the elite: the 40k entrance fee is another issue.

St George can really take whatever 'anti-solidere' posturing they're trying to maintain and shove it up their arse. I'll be calling it Zaitunay bay, thanks very much. I prefer to look the enemy right in the eye rather than squint at it behind some political facade.

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