Lebanon’s Fragile “Regime” Threatened by Sanitary Pads

Tuesday 11 May 202101:02 pm
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القمع يُواجه بالسخرية... فوطة صحيّة تهدّد أمن لبنان

Lebanese comedian Shaden Fakih announced on social media that the Anti Cyber Crimes Bureau has summoned her for a second investigation on account of her Facebook posts.

Today, after leaving the investigation, it turned out that the summons was based on a farcical phone call made by Shaden during the lockdown period. During the call, she had asked the government lockdown e-platform for permission to leave the house in order to buy sanitary pads.

In previous years, Shaden swiftly rose in the comedy scene in Beirut due to her work which talks about the country’s existing conditions as well as topics ranging from politics and religion to gender, women’s rights and the LGBTQ community. She has been able to perform her skits with ease and plainly discuss these issues in her own way, using comedy and sarcasm to deliver her ideas to her audience which follows her on the stage and on social media sites.

When we are unable to overthrow authority, we make fun of it and strip it of the bubble of power it is trying to frighten us with. Thus, we laugh in the face of oppression and live on.

The night before the investigation, Shaden posted a video on her Instagram account, explaining what had happened: “We were taught in school, folks, that history repeats itself, and indeed history has repeated itself. A month and a half ago, the Anti Cyber Crimes Bureau called me to say that I have an investigation, and then they postponed… Today, they called me once again and  announced that I have an interrogation tomorrow at the Furn el-Chebbak police station at 10 am. This time, I received an official summons without stating the reason. I sat down to think to myself, what did you do, Shaden [that brought forth this investigation]? Am I conducting consultations with the state of Israel and giving them around 30% of our territorial waters? No. Shaden, did you blow up the Port of Beirut? No. Shaden, are you smuggling the Captagondrug? No. Are you stealing the people’s money? No. What did you do, Shaden? Oh, you wrote a post on Facebook.”

Shaden clarified that this is a police state and that she will not retract any statement or idea that she has written.

A Sanitary Pad, Freedom for Shaden

The next day, Shaden left the investigation, only for those following the story to discover that the state government had summoned her because of a sanitary pad. This is the same state that doesn't lift a finger when assassinations take place and lets them pass by unnoticed, and doesn’t enforce price controls even while under imminent threat of an economic collapse. It is the same state that bombed the Port of Beirut and until this moment, has not held a single criminal accountable and did not respect the lives that were lost. It had the audacity to summon a comedian in the face of the worst period the nation is witnessing — from money smuggling out of the country, to drug trafficking, poverty, and hunger — all because it saw that a phone call may encroach upon the dignity of the security forces.

“Shaden, did you blow up the Port of Beirut? No. 
Shaden, are you smuggling the Captagon drug? No.
Are you stealing the people’s money? No.
What did you do, Shaden? Oh, you wrote a post on Facebook.”

Outside the station where the investigation was conducted, protesters chanted: ‘A sanitary pad, freedom for Shaden’..., because an oppressive, police state can only be confronted this way. In the absence of accountability, the only method available for people to deal with the indignity that befalls them is through comedy and ridicule.

We mock the system because it deserves mockery, and because the security forces that were attacking the demonstrators in the streets and sniping at their eyes that were only looking towards their usurped rights deserve mockery. And because the government is unable to form itself due to a president that deals with the appointed prime minister in a paternalistic manner — even though the latter was overthrown by public street demonstrations more than a year ago — they deserve that we throw at them our jokes that stem from pain. Because those who every day survive the internal war are laughing instead of crying over their lost homes and their life’s work after itwas stolen from the banks, they choose life despite all the present deathsurrounding them. Thus, when we are unable to overthrow authority, we make fun of it and strip it of the bubble of power with which it is trying to frighten us. Thus, we laugh in the face of oppression and live on.

Because the bloody authority hailing from a civil war that kills people on a daily basis is extremely sensitive to criticism and also has endless hypocrisy from the tip of its pyramid of power to the bottom, individuals take it upon themselves to confront it and say what must be said. And this is what Shadendid.

We mock the system because it deserves mockery, and because the security forces that were attacking the demonstrators in the streets and sniping at their eyes that were only looking towards their usurped rights deserve mockery.

In a video published by Shaden following the end of the investigation, she said, “During the first lockdown, when we were prevented from leaving the house after five o'clock and were forced to contact the security forces (112) to obtain a permit to go outside, I called as a way to ridicule this impractical and non-realistic method. During the investigation, the investigators dealt with me in a good manner, and I affirmed that I did not direct any offense to the security forces themselves, who have a lot of things that they should be dealing with instead of investigating me. What I did was criticize the failed method that was used during the lockdown period... Thank you. We’ll see you in the next case.”

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