As the ongoing revolution in Lebanon shows little sign of stopping, Lebanese Canadian YouTube star Mark Hachem is using his channel to educate the Western audience about the protests.
Hachem, whose comedic and inspirational YouTube videos are watched by millions, told Al Arabiya English he couldn’t stay silent about his support for the protests across the country.
“I’m doing what I can as an artist to raise awareness for people who don’t know about the revolution, and also to boost morale and support. For me, the Lebanese people rising up against political corruption and fighting for change is something I’m proud of,” Hachem said.
“I witnessed Lebanon suffer from afar and up close while I was there. The country is in ashes, now the people are ready to rise,” Hachem says in his video“Lebanon Rises. We Need Your Help,” detailing the political corruption and garbage crisis that has plagued the country and advocating for the continuation of nonviolent resistance through demonstrations.
While Hachem’s biggest audience is the Lebanese diaspora in America and Canada, his videos are being followed in Lebanon as well.
“People in Lebanon are excited to see support from all the way across the world,” said Hachem, adding that he gets most of his news about the revolution from family in Lebanon.
“Being Arab: What We Are - What We're Not”
Born and raised in Canada by Lebanese parents, Hachem, 30, grew up immersed in Lebanese traditions and values, and learning Arabic, French, and English.
“The Lebanese roots and culture were always in the household,” Hachem said.
After studying formal theater including acting and directing, Hachem became active on Facebook and YouTube in 2017. His first video about Lebanese expressions gained one million views within ten days.
“It took off to my surprise. That video is really what made me realize the power of the online platform,” Hachem said.
His video channel covers different languages and cultures, with a specific focus on Arabic language and Middle Eastern culture.
One of his most popular videos, “Being Arab: What We Are - What We're Not,” uses comedy to confirm certain stereotypes about Arabs - i.e. being family oriented and using lots of hand gestures - while dispelling others, like the assumptions all Arabs are Muslims, ride on camels, and live in tents.
User Moh Musaed from Saudi Arabia called it “the most accurate video of the Arabian society with a bit of humour,” in a comment.
Hachem says he receives many comments from non-Arabs in North America who say his videos changed their way of thinking.
User Novem James Bernaldez’s comment is just one example.
“You just showed me a whole new landscape about Arabs and the Arab world.”
The mission of the channel is to normalize being Arab for the Western audience, according to Hachem.
“The stereotypes in the West about Arabs need to constantly be modified. The most effective way to do that is to educate - that’s the angle I approach it from, showing the beauty and richness of Arab culture,” said Hachem.