Sunday, March 1, 2015

Racist graffiti in Ashrafieh: "The Syrian is your enemy"

[Originally posted at NOW, with photo slideshow]

“Leave, leave, O Syrian.” “Beware your enemy, the Syrian is your enemy.” These were some of the slogans disfiguring the walls of Beirut’s Ashrafieh neighborhood this morning, sprayed on last night by a group calling itself “The Soldiers of Christ.” In what they presumably imagined was a witty play on the Islamist “takbeer” cry (meaning “Say ‘Allahu akbar’”), they also stenciled crucifixes with the caption “tasleeb,” the word for the act of crossing oneself.

After a series of weeks in which Syrian civilians in Lebanon have been shot at and stabbed, tied up and publicly beaten, harassed by armed ‘patrolmen’, and abused by soldiers (by the army’s own admission), this kind of ethno-sectarian bigotry is, sadly, nothing new. Still, it’s a depressing omen for Ashrafieh, ostensibly one of the freest and most enlightened parts of Beirut, home to the likes of Elias Khoury and the late Samir Kassir, where artists, journalists and students congregate nightly over food and drink.

It’s also an alarming one, and not only for Syrians. Are these “soldiers of Christ” not content with sitting out the Sunni-Shiite war presently turning city after city across the region to rubble? Do they really want to pull themselves and their remaining co-religionists into the furnace? Or haven’t they seen the recent increase in attention paid by jihadists to Lebanon’s Christians, and their repeated promises of retribution for any attacks on Syrian innocents? Rarely does a single sentence of graffiti combine so much loathsome fanaticism with such irresponsible stupidity.

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