The Liberal Illusions of March 14th


Joseph El-Khoury

In preparation for their planned show of force on their birthday, or at least the day before, the 14th March camp in Lebanon ( self-defined as liberal, pro-western and patriotic) have launched an all guns blazing online campaign heavily reliant on social media.This is mostly done through the blog page  ayyawatan (what type of homeland?) which prominently feature posters allegedly comparing a Hezbollah dominated state to the one of the Hariri led alliance.!/ayyawatan?closeTheater=1

So far so good! …until further scrutiny reveals that the latter vision is strongly inspired by the perspective of the traditional Chrsitian Right. (To be understood the one that fought the civil under the banner of the now defunct Lebanese Front). This is not particularly surpising as the communication team at the heart of this campaign is likely to include Kataeb or Lebanese Forces affiliated individuals. But portraying ‘their Lebanon’ as a fully westernised Middle Class paradise where blue eyed children spend their weekend skiing just smacks of complete lack of sensitivity. How is not a PR disaster after a 15 years civil war was fought over the country’s identity and affiliation with the Arab world. This approach is also a major rebuff to recent calls from within the movement to appeal directly to the Shiite power base.


One particular poster that has mysteriously disappeared showed side to side a distressed elderly veiled lady hugging a crying child and another younger casually dressed model hugging her similing progeny. It caused outcry from a number of circles, which might explain its withdrawal.


Still, some of the ones in use are only slightly less offensive in my opinion. I wonder at what point the Hariri communication machine will understand that playing the dichotomy card (Good vs.Evil, Life vs. Death, Ugly vs.Beautiful, Poor vs.Prosperous) can only alienate a substantive section of the population across the sectrarian divide, that  have neither experienced nor aspire to the ‘Switzerland of the Middle East’.

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