Lebanon: Women, Politics and the Zalghouta

This week’s summary of the Lebanese blogosphere has posts about politics, peace activism, internal tourism, tradition, feminism and how to cook moghrabiyeh. So let’s start:

In an educational and well prepared historical essay, Mustapha Mond discusses what he sees as the major reasons of the political crisis that Lebanon is stuck with today:

The time has come to congratulate the Lebanese for creating the most polarized and dysfunctional country in the world. Here we are, roughly divided into two groups busy demonizing each other. and going out of our way to reject any validity in our opponents’ views. Each side asserts some kind of monopoly to what being Lebanese really represents, and holds massive demonstrations waving the same flag, but agreeing on little else. […] Of course, as Lebanese we have excuses which include a litany of grievances. Our first basic problem has to do with our history: it is the most exclusionary narrative you can think of, as it is only relevant to about a quarter of the population. Furthermore, history books go out of their way to alienate the rest of the country.
[…] Some people will argue that history is irrelevant, that it is just a lame excuse used by those not patriotic enough, who refuse to adapt to the widely accepted paradigm. But in order to believe in Lebanon, you have to be part of it. Currently we have two well-defined camps who accuse one another of not being Lebanese enough. They are both wrong as no single movement has a monopoly on what being Lebanese really represents.

Still in the domain of politics, Tearsforlebanon reports about a group of peace activists that demonstrated in Beirut for the politicians to lay off and stop driving Lebanon to the brink of a civil war.

Beirut- Hundreds of Lebanese peace activists demonstrated in Beirut against perceived threats of civil war to tell politicians to keep their “hands off” the fate of the people. Responding to calls by 12 groups, the protesters rallied at the intersection that once divided Christian east and Muslim west Beirut in the 1975 to 1990 civil war. One protester said: “By this action, we want to tell our politicians that they are irresponsible and that the Lebanese people will not let themselves be dragged into a new civil war.” Another protester said: “To live in uncertainty about tomorrow and in continual fear is not an inevitability.”

While Hillz writes an Arabic post in which he discusses civil war and political turmoil and contradictions from which the following passage is translated:

I need to write a script that does not end. After you finish reading it, you find that you are back at the beginning. Then you have to read all over again. […]
When I looked at the new ID card that does not have a mention of the owner’s sect, the barcode on its back caught my attention. I innocently said, (yes, I was innocent once upon a time), that the sect is hidden here. I said that the future has a war in store for us. Militia men will stand on road blocks with tech–devices that can swallow the ID card and reveal the sect that is hidden in the code. I expanded my theory to say that killing will become killing according to the electronic ID card version 2.1.

With all the problems, Lebanon is still loved by its inhabitants. Check out this photo essay by NightS about the southern Lebanese city of Tyre:

all my life I've been moving around and I got to have many wonderful memories from different cities…each one has its own magic…each one has its very special value in my heart…
So in order to be fair with these lovely cities, I won't pick one of them. Instead, I'll talk about a very beautiful place here in Lebanon, Tyre.
Tyre (Sour in Arabic) is a city on the Mediterranean coast of southern Lebanon, located 19 km north of the border with Palestine, 40 km south of Saida and 83 km south of Beirut. It's considered the fourth largest city in Lebanon. It was also a major Pheonician seaport.
Why do I love the city? because it's a great place to be. End of Story!
Okay I'll talk more…

Are you familiar with Lebanese tradition? Have you heard of the zalghouta? Okay, let Jamal explain:

The zalghouta:
first a note to my foreign readers: Even though it rhymes with it, Zalghouta has nothing to do with that One arabic word you know.
The Zalghouta is a physical feat involving the tongue and throat, usually, of a female. No, no, I repeat this has nothing to do with that one arabic word you know.
The Zalghouta is a loud expression of the happy ending of bachelor life. I swear it has nothing to do with sex, even though ladies who can perform it tend to have higher babies per uterus averages than women who can't.
I don't think it is either a genetically inherited talent or an acquired skill, it must be another one of these unexplainable Lebanese miracle mutations like full make up breakfasts and Walid Jumblat.

The International Women’s Day was last week, and Abu Ali seized the opportunity to write a post in which he discussed several topics relevant to feminism, among them, is the question of whether his veiled relatives need liberating:

My cousins are veiled and live in the South. We never touch or shake hands. When we meet, they place their hands on their chest and do a little curtsy. I make fun of them and run after them and hold them so they never get to go to paradise. We’re quite close, we talk about everything, politics, family, friends, loves. During the war, they stayed in the village and drove their cars at night to take food to the fighters in the hills. They also took turns guarding the village at night. When the war ended, they buried their dead, rebuilt their houses and sent their kids to school. How can I possibly liberate them? When I’m around them I feel I’m the one who needs liberating.

Talking about Women’s Day, Shirin’s parents are concerned that she is abroad studying. They have voiced their concern and have asked her to return to Lebanon. This is part of her story:

My father wants me to quit my studies and return to Lebanon. I have considered it before, especially after the war that had ruined my beloved homeland. It seemed to me that I needed to do something to help my country, and quitting my studies was a fair sacrifice.
But this is not the case now: my father wants me to quit because he is concerned. My mama (umi el3aziza) wants me to go back to Lebanon because she thinks that there I will be safe.
It surprised me, I thought that they were liberal enough to understand that the West isn’t their enemy, but now they are terrified. They are afraid that my studies might corrupt my mind and set me against Islam.

Finally, if all this reading has made you hungry, then maybe you would care for some moghrabiyeh. This is the recipe from Skylark.

Bon appétit.

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