Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Bassel El Amin’s Syrian shoe was actually the regime’s boot

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Lebanese students protesting against the Syrian occupation of Lebanon 

A week ago, Bassel El Amin wrote that a Syrian shoe is more worthy than Lebanon and was subsequently arrested and spent a few nights in jail. Yesterday, he praised the “liberation” of Aleppo by the regime forces. If you put these two together, it very much looks like El Amin’s Syrian shoe is actually the regime’s boot.

I didn’t want to write anything about the Bassel El Amin case when populists of all kinds started screaming about freedom of expression, and idiots assured us that Lebanon was a police state. For some reason, I believed there were more to it than just an offensive Facebook status.

So I waited, and as it turned out, I was right to do so. A new Facebook post by Al Amin praising the “liberation of Aleppo” by the Assad regime has shed a new light on his ideological beliefs.

The controversial Facebook status that led the 21 years old student in jail for a few nights said: “The shoe of a Syrian worker, refugee and citizen is more worthy than your republic, your cedar, your Lebanon, your independence, your government, your history, your revolution, your presidents, understood?”

But when you read it in light of his yesterday status, things take a whole different meaning: “My dear Aleppo, if I knew that the days I spent behind bars would grant your liberation, I would have spent years and saw Syria raise the victory cup.”

As it appears, Bassel El Amin is a Syrian regime supporter. Ironically, he also defends his right to freely express his opinions. But the Assad regime is not exactly keen on freedom of speech, to say the least. But this doesn’t seem to bother him. What he claims for himself in a country he insults, he gladly denies to others under a regime he supports.

Moreover, being an outspoken Syrian regime supporter and saying that a Syrian shoe is more worthy than Lebanon is a much more serious issue than just offending a large number of people or breaking some outdated law.

Lebanon lived under Syrian occupation for three decades. During these dark years, Lebanese were bombed, murdered, arrested and tortured. The Lebanese Republic was mercilessly crushed under the Syrian boot.

When I put his two statuses together, I can only wonder what Bassel El Amin would have done if he lived during this wretched era. He probably would have been a zealous collaborator and turned a blind eye on the arrest and torture of thousands of his fellow countrymen and women. He surely wouldn’t have been the freedom of speech advocate he claims to be today, and may have branded the anti-syrian resistance as traitors. Perhaps he would have taken part in the October 13 invasion, or at least justified the massacre of hundreds of Lebanese soldiers.

Sadly, this student turned hero by some self-proclaimed leftists is not the only one saying something and its exact opposite. But despite his offensive and hypocritical rhetoric, I call on everyone that felt insulted by what he wrote to always defend his right to freely express his opinions, regardless of what he says. Because freedom of speech is sacred. Because we fought very hard for it when Lebanon was actually a police state. And because we are better than the likes of him. Much better.

© Claude El Khal, 2016

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