Tidbits of Arabic News translated into English

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Lebanese priorities

(February 13, 2014)

Topless pictures have been revealed of a Lebanese female Olympian at the Sochi games. The name of the athlete is Jackie Chamoun.

The BBC Arabic's Malak Jaafar announced she was going to do an in-depth segment about it, which surprised me. This sounded like such a fluffy, entertainment story to me.

Little did I know.

I think that Malak Jaafar herself is Lebanese. First, she ran a clip of a Lebanese woman saying: All the newspapers, radios, television stations have Jackie Chamoun plastered all over them. Meanwhile, we have bombs going off all the time, and women are being attacked. And we have three pages in the newspaper dedicated to Jackie Chamoun!

Some people in Lebanon are upset, because they have family values and don't want a woman with naked pictures representing them. If a naked picture is released of one Lebanese woman, then people get to thinking all Lebanese women are like that, and that is a troubling idea if you want to be modest.

Other people in Lebanon think that Ms. Chamoun can express herself as she wishes. So Malak showed footage from a photo shoot arranged by some young Lebanese. They were stripping in support of Jackie Chamoun. I don't think that's such a good idea. They are definitely not going to get the conservative, family values types people to respect them any more that way.

And the last clip that Malak showed was of a car. Just an ordinary car found in Lebanon today, and packed full of explosives. But I think they caught it before it went off.

Malak ended with: some people say it is really strange that everyone is concerned with Jackie Chamoun when exploding cars are being rigged up.

Then, it was time for discussion. Malak had this man on via video link to Beirut:

Malak asked him: The Lebanese tourism ministry has always promoted Lebanon by showing women in scanty bathing suits on the beach. You can see images like this in all the promotional videos the ministry publicizes. This is public information, and the images are presented as a stereotypical image of Lebanese women. These images also represent Lebanese women in an immodest way. So why is there all of a sudden an uproar now that Jackie Chamoun has done the same thing, albeit through a personal whim rather than through official tourism videos?

Man in Beirut: You know, that's a different problem, because it's also not a good thing for the tourism ministry to be showcasing women's bodies in that way, trying to use that to attract visitors.

Malak: Yes, but why is the country upset over Jackie when the tourism films are full of the same thing? They've been making films like that since the 70s.

Man in Beirut: I don't know what he said.

Malak: There's very religious people in Lebanon, and then there's more liberal people who don't see anything wrong with a beautiful, athletic woman doing what she wants. How can the country be reconciled with such a crisis in opposing opinions.

Man in Beirut: no, yes! Yes, there's different opinions, but everyone in Lebanon understands that you respect other people's choices, and that's different from other Arab countries, and that's why Lebanon is so much better and it has been like this for decades!

Malak: right, so with all the explosions and crises in Lebanon, and the other day a wife was killed by her husband, why are we focusing on this topic?

Man in Beirut: my dear Malak, your question is set up for the answer. Obviously, it is all a little strange!

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