Lebanon’s online campaigns no match for militants

Diana Moukalled
Diana Moukalled
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Beirut doesn't look like itself these days. The city is closing in on itself after those who were able to escape, did so. As for those who stayed, they are worried of an unknown fate that threatens everyone.

Crises and divisions have become more than visible whether via stances, explosions and public threats and statements. Passersby walk fast pace yet shy to reveal their caution, silent prayers or that the last Twitter, Facebook or WhatsApp message may be their last will.

The Lebanese have regained that sense of caution which accompanied them in the 1980s during the civil war. They are now paranoid as they pass near any car or in any neighborhood that is well-known as Sunni or Shiite. This sectarian categorization makes such areas a clear target for explosions and assassinations.

Hezbollah will resume fighting in Syria alongside a criminal regime, and it will drag Lebanon towards more divisions and jeopardize its people. Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seems more determined to kill.

Diana Moukalled

Relatively speaking, there was little time between each explosion. But last week, the series of explosions took a different path as only a few days separated the two recent explosions. It's true that these events created a huge media and political fuss and that those sensing danger are trying to contain the situation via statements and media campaigns. Such efforts however seem weak when measured with efforts seeking chaos.

Fighting back in the virtual world

Pages on social networking websites are mobilizing people to the fullest. Lebanese youths have thus launched a virtual resistance of the situation as a result from the explosions across the country.

"I am not a martyr," is a slogan used in one the campaigns on Facebook. This campaign was spurred by three young men: Mohammed, Ali and Malak - three Lebanese teenagers who died in the last two explosions as they passed in the wrong place at the wrong time.

The different explosions across the country - whether the assassination of former minister Mohamed Chatah or the suicide bombing that targeted Beirut's southern suburb of Dahiyeh - targeted civilians before anyone else. But resisting these explosions with civil campaigns - whether in the virtual world or via the traditional media - seems weak when compared with the determination displayed by those carrying out the attacks.

Hezbollah will resume fighting in Syria alongside a criminal regime and it will drag Lebanon towards more divisions and jeopardize its people. Meanwhile, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seems more determined to kill. It announced it will resume its operations and that the explosions which the Lebanese people have suffered so far are only a part of what it's preparing.

How can the Lebanese confront that via a Facebook campaign here or a comment and Twitter post there?

Lebanese historian and author Ahmad Baydoun said that Facebook has become our refuge in Lebanon.

This is our reality today. Assassinations and murder haunt us in the streets so we flee to the virtual world leaving reality for Hezbollah and the ISIL.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Jan. 6, 2014.


Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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