Lebanese youth, families wish to emigrate, says Christian NGO

A protester shouts slogans during a rally to protest government policies, in Beirut. (AP)
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Updated 11 February 2020

Lebanese youth, families wish to emigrate, says Christian NGO

  • The most dangerous thing about this is that some of these people are wealthy and they decided to withdraw their money from Lebanon and invest it abroad

BEIRUT: Lebanese youth and families want to emigrate from the country as they have lost hope in their homeland, according to Labora, an NGO working since 2008 on problems facing the Christian community.
“This is a new phenomenon where 7 out of 10 people we are contacting, including youth and families, say they want to emigrate from Lebanon because they have lost hope in their homeland,” Tony Khadra, the head of Labora, told Arab News.
This phenomenon was also the focus of a sermon delivered by the Curial Bishop of the Maronite Patriarchate Archbishop Paul Abdel Sater on Sunday, which resonated widely with Lebanese people.
Sater warned Lebanese officials, saying: “Thousands of our youths are lining up in front of embassies, in an attempt to leave the country as soon as possible.”
Sater said that what is happening “must be an ultimatum to stop the heads of political parties, deputies and ministers, from tossing around charges and responsibilities, as well as attempting to achieve frail political and additional gains, and to start seriously and cleanly cooperating together, in order to save our country from an economic collapse and a social ruin.”
Lebanon is facing a serious political and economic crisis. President Michel Aoun summarized the gravity of the crisis before the Maronite League in January, saying that: “Lebanon has neither production nor money after relying on a rent-based economy for years.”
The country’s politicians are concerned about the state’s incapacity to pay its debts, which are due in the coming weeks, and that the government of Prime Minister Hassan Diab will not be able to launch the required reforms to acquire the international economic support that Lebanon needs, especially since the US administration considers it to be “Hezbollah’s government.”

SPEEDREAD

There is information that is being circulated among youth that the Canadian Embassy is reopening the door of immigration, especially for Christians.

Khadra said: “36,000 students graduate yearly from universities in Lebanon and fail to find jobs. The unemployment crisis is not confined to one religion or another, but rather affects young people from all religions.”
There is information that is being circulated among youth that the Canadian Embassy is reopening the door of immigration, especially for Christians. However, Ambassador of Canada to Lebanon Emmanuelle Lamoureux denied what is being said about Canada adopting a special program for the emigration of Christians from Lebanon, stressing that: “Canada has not changed its policy regarding immigration.”
The head of the Lebanese Land Movement, Talal Douaihy, claimed last November that: “The employees of the Canadian Embassy are contacting a certain group of those who have submitted immigration applications more than a year ago, and this group is the Christians.”
Information International counted during the first three months of 2019 around 4,700 Lebanese citizens, the majority of whom are under the age of 40, leaving the country without declaring their intention to return.
Activist lawyer Antoine Nasrallah told Arab News about the “frightening numbers of emigration” from Lebanon. He said: “I know doctors and human rights activists who have made the decision to emigrate from Lebanon to Europe and Canada while those who have relatives in Australia decided to join them.
“The most dangerous thing about this is that some of these people are wealthy and they decided to withdraw their money from Lebanon and invest it abroad. It should be noted that one of the vital arteries that kept the heart of Lebanon beating is the money of workers abroad that was transferred to their families back home.”
Nasrallah said: “There is a real concern among people of all religions that the country no longer preserves their dignity, does not provide them with a decent living, and in return, the government is not taking any steps to restore hope to the people.”
We fear that we will be turning into an old population, yet the most dangerous thing is that those who are emigrating from Lebanon are the ones who believe in the concept of a republic, while those who remain don’t,” he added.


Accusations of serial assault spark new #MeToo wave in Egypt

Updated 4 min 6 sec ago

Accusations of serial assault spark new #MeToo wave in Egypt

  • Activists say the case shows that misogyny cuts across the country’s stark class lines
  • In Egypt, sexual assault complaints have typically involved street harassment

CAIRO: Their accounts are similar. The girls and women describe meeting the young man — a former student at Egypt’s most elite university — in person and online, followed by deceit, then escalating sexual harassment, assault, blackmail or rape.
Some were minors when the alleged crimes took place. In all, more than 100 accusers have emerged online in the past two weeks.
It’s resulted in a new #MeToo firestorm on social media, and the arrest of the suspect last week from his home in a gated community outside Cairo.
Activists say the case shows that misogyny cuts across the country’s stark class lines; many in Egypt have previously portrayed harassment as a problem of poor urban youth.
Women’s rights champions hope the authorities’ swift response signals change in how Egyptian society handles accusations of sexual assault.
“What’s before this case is totally different from what’s after,” said Nihad Abuel-Komsan, head of the Egyptian Center for Women’s Rights and a lawyer representing some of the alleged victims.
Sexual assault and harassment are deep-seated problems in Egypt, where victims must also fight the undercurrent of a conservative culture that typically ties female chastity to a family’s reputation. In courts, the burden of proof lies heavily on the victim of such crimes.
In a statement, the public prosecutor’s officer said the accused man acknowledged he blackmailed at least six girls, saying he would send sensitive photos of them to their families if they cut ties. Several attempts by The Associated Press to contact him or his lawyer were unsuccessful.
Amr Adib, Egypt’s most prominent TV host, said in a recent episode that he’d spoken with the young man’s father, who occupies a high-ranking position at a telecommunication company. He said his son dismissed the allegations.
At least 10 women have officially reported their claims, according to Abuel-Komsan, of the women’s rights center. Activists also set up the Instagram account @assaultpolice to collect allegations, said Sabah Khodir, a US-based writer who helps run the account. She said there are more than 100 accounts.
“We are demanding to be listened to … We are just using what we have, lending our voices to hopefully create some kind of change,” she said.
A court has ordered the accused to remain in custody pending an investigation into an array of accusations that include attempted rape, blackmail and indecent assault, according to a five-page statement by the public prosecutor. In the same statement, the prosecutor urged more alleged victims to come forward.
Last week, the government of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi moved to amend the country’s criminal law to increase protections for the identities of sexual assault victims, which activists have welcomed. The amendment still needs parliamentary approval and El-Sisi’s signature to be made law.
The allegations against the student cover a period of at least three years.
Many of the anonymous accounts appear to be from fellow students at the American International School, one of the country’s most expensive private high schools, and the American University in Cairo, which school officials said the accused left in 2018. It would appear that he then enrolled at the European Union Business School in Spain, in an online program last year.
In February, he spent three weeks at its Barcelona campus, but the school expelled him after an accusation of online harassment that was subsequently proved false, said Claire Basterfield, a spokesperson for the EUBS. The school has filed a 54-page criminal complaint with the Spanish police, seeking further investigation into his actions.
The head of the American University in Cairo, Francis Ricciardone, said the university has a zero-tolerance policy concerning sexual harassment, but that he would not comment on an ongoing case.
According to accusations posted on social media in the past two weeks, the former student would mine the pool of mutual friends on Facebook, online groups or school clubs. He would start with flattery, then pressure the women and girls to share intimate photos that he later used to blackmail them to have sex with him. If they did not, he would threaten to send the pictures to their family.
In some cases, he “attracted their sympathy by claiming he was going through a crisis,” then lured them to his home in an upscale compound where he sexually assaulted them, the prosecutor’s statement alleged.
In Egypt, sexual assault complaints have typically involved street harassment. During and after the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, women were frequently harassed, groped — and in some cases, beaten and sexually assaulted — during mass protests.
This time, there are signs of wider ripples throughout the society. The current series of complaints has prompted Egypt’s Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s foremost religious institution, to speak out on sexual harassment and assault, even challenging the widely held belief that a woman is at fault if her clothing is less than modest. It’s a departure from the norm for the conservative Muslim majority country where most women wear headscarves.
There are also other corners where accusations of sexual harassment are emerging, such as in civil society groups and businesses.
Two rights groups said they fired one employee and suspended another, and opened investigations after allegations of sexual misconduct against them were made public. Authorities also detained a prominent publisher over the weekend after a poet filed a complaint with the Cairo police, accusing him of sexually harassing her, the state-run Al-Ahram reported. The publisher denied the allegations in a Facebook posting. He was released late Sunday on 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($313) in bail, pending an investigation.
The recent cases — reaching into the Egyptian elite — have “refuted all previous arguments and justifications for harassment, from poverty to illiteracy and things like that,” Abuel-Komsan said.