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Camera moments

You know those moments you just wish you had a camera at hand to capture a scene? I had two of those moments, today.


On my way home, I take the "north" highway-which-does-not-look-like-a-highway. Today, something extraordinary happened on the highway. And no, it was not the discovery of yet-another-enormous-pothole. I was driving in my lane (well there are no lanes... no need to, really, after all that is the unique Lebanese way of doing things; but by lane I mean line of traffic) at around 40 km/hr (due to moderate traffic) when all of a sudden, a jeep came up right next to me. I turned my head to check out what was the matter as the jeep was keeping up my pace even though it could go faster in its own lane. To my amazement, I saw two guys (aside from the driver), one in the front one in the back, with their windows rolled down, holding RIFLES, staring at me. At first I ignored them. I was so shocked that I turned around again to check out what the hell this was all about. Even by Lebanese standards it is unusual to see people going around in unmarked jeeps, with windows rolled down, and holding rifles. Then, one of them moved the rifle a bit out of the window, to make sure that I saw it. He then put his arm out of the window and gestured that I move to the right. What the hell? At first I did not know what was going on. So I moved a bit to the right. Then, I realized what was actually happening. It was actually a 3-car convoy, with the jeep leading it. All three cars, including the jeep with the armed gunmen, were unmarked in any way whatsoever. The last car in the convoy was a black brand-new Mercedes-Benz. It, along with the other 2 cars, bore standard/regular license plates. The mixture of shock and amusement soon wore off, since the cars actually passed me and disappeared into the traffic. Then, somehow, I don't know how, it so happened that I actually found myself having caught up with the convoy. To my amazement the man sitting in the front gestured again for me to move away, to the right. Being the trouble-maker that I am, I gave him the most disgusted look, shook my head, looked back at him, shook my head again, and not only did I not move away, but actually cut them off.

I was told by the person sitting next to me, that I should not be doing such things, that it was risky, and that on another occasion they might actually get out of the car and beat the crap out of me. I had to laugh out loud at that. First: beat the crap out of me?? The last time anyone tried to do that (and no I do not have a martial arts belt) they not only wished they had not thought it a good idea, but that they had not even been born, so as not to think it. Second, I am supposed to take their crap because they might beat the crap out of me??? What kind of twisted logic is this? And who are these people? Their cars are unmarked, their license plates regular, and even if not, then so what? If they are officials, then officials get paid to do their jobs rather than have red carpets rolled out for them on highways as if they are distributing money to the people from their pockets. And what are unidentified gunmen doing going around and threatening people like that???


Speaking of cameras: I passed through a red light today, and I was unlucky enough to have one of those camera thingies (courtesy Hariri, Inc.) snap right at that instant. I thought to myself, what the hell, why do I have to be so unlucky? Then I chuckled, and told the person riding with me in the car that the state of affairs in this country can be summarized when you look at, on the one hand these cameras that are supposed to catch traffic violations and other wrong-doers; and on the other hand the release of Mark Hoayek's shooter.


By the way, have you been noticing the fancy brand-new American-donated Internal Security Forces black Ford Explorers touring around the Hariri, Inc. part of Beirut? Did you also notice they almost never leave the Hariri, Inc. part of Beirut? I saw one today. It was stationary. The driver and the rider next to him had parked the car in the shade and were sleeping.

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posted by Angry Anarchist @ 5/09/2007 10:55:00 PM,


At May 10, 2007 at 6:12 AM, Blogger Bedouina said...

You really shook your head in disgust at a man pointing a rifle at you, and then cut him off?

Swear to God you Lebanese have cojones of steel.

I take it you didn't really think he was going to shoot you? How did you know? In America, anybody crazy enough to point a rifle out the car window at you is crazy enough to shoot you, and probably will. Signed - Leila A. - Bedouina

At May 10, 2007 at 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm surprised that this is the first time this has happened to you. it's happened to me (alone, w/ friends, and w/ my parents) at least 4 times... it happened to my mom once as well..

At May 10, 2007 at 3:17 PM, Blogger Angry Anarchist said...

Hey Leila :-)

Yeah, I did... You should've seen the look on their faces. That was certainly a very camera moment, although I might not have been here today if I had taken pics. :o)

At that instant I did not think of the possibility that they might do something like that (i.e. shoot). I guess it was a bit naive that I was reassured by the presence of many people around (given the traffic) who would be witnesses, and the fact that they might not be able to get away so easily if they did such a thing, and therefore I might have instinctively thought that they would take these things into consideration before taking such a step. haha I know that's like playing Russian Roulette but what the hell, life is short we might as well annoy those who think they are entitled to special treatment. :D

Hi Jad :-)

No this is the first time this has happened to me, I was really shocked. I've had MARKED internal security forces cars do that when a convoy was passing, but the LICENSE PLATES in the entire convoy in that case were all majlis nuweb or something like that!!! NOT regular license plates. This guy was NOT someone in any elected position!!!

I've also had the "brown shirt" forces (I think part of the security forces, they wear dark brown and are very "big" guys) literally TRY to pick me up and remove me from a sidewalk in downtown Beirut, because a "personality" was walking on the sidewalk!!! This was in late 2005, I think, when I had just recently returned to Lebanon, and I think it was my first time visiting downtown in 4-5 years...

At May 10, 2007 at 3:22 PM, Blogger Angry Anarchist said...

Speaking of naivete, I guess it was beyond naive, given what has happened before, Internal Security Forces shooting (and killing) a guy in cold blood because they "thought" he was driving a stolen car. And they are going around freely today.

At May 10, 2007 at 4:04 PM, Blogger Hilal CHOUMAN said...

I once had the same thing in Bshamoun (*but with out riffles*)
and guess what. PM Rafic el hariri was in the second black car. The funny thing is that the guys were waving to people to move w henneh bi66al3a where i was neizil and I had a wall (you know that one which hold the trees from falling down on the road)to my right side.

later on I knew that there was a funeral for a mokhtar bil man6a2a..

I am starting to think that there are guys whose duty is just to wave for people.
but riffles? that's new.

At May 10, 2007 at 4:06 PM, Blogger Hilal CHOUMAN said...

and what is it about the Internal Security Forces ?
it is not the first khbriyyeh i hear about them?
What's going on?

At May 10, 2007 at 4:15 PM, Blogger Angry Anarchist said...

LOL Hilal...
Yes certainly, I think they have special trained units to wave for people to open the way for politicians or "personalities" to pass through smoothly. Maybe soon they will realize that this is so passé, and start building separate roads for these "personalities". ;)

The Internal Security Forces have become a militia.
Btw did I tell you that I noticed the tal3et el Qoreitem (the LAU lower gate) is usually infested with plainclothes "mukhabarat"? It is hilarious. I have to chuckle at it every time. Even *I* can play a better role as "undercover" intelligence agent. LOL

At May 10, 2007 at 5:40 PM, Blogger Hilal CHOUMAN said...

"Even *I*?"
hmm.. under-estimating self capabilities. doesn't go with anarchism :-)

At May 10, 2007 at 6:53 PM, Blogger Angry Anarchist said...

hahaha good catch. ;) You got me there. :o)

No no.. you didn't. :P
Just that extreme bluntness makes me a very poor candidate for such a job. Back when we used to go to protests, we were very obviously identifiable among the crowd. :o) Plus, my ability to "smell" plainclothes officers dates back to those days. And oh believe me, the ones here are nowhere as professional as the ones outside. And we *were* notorious for our abilities to expose plainclothes officers among the crowds. ;)

I'd rather brag about my police-hunting abilities rather than my abilities to become one of them. ;^)

At May 11, 2007 at 3:25 PM, Blogger Richard said...

Amusing that an anarchist complains about the lack of respect for traffic lanes.

At May 11, 2007 at 4:40 PM, Blogger Angry Anarchist said...

"R" -- where did you see me complain? You think you are too smart? Wow!!! I hate to break it to you, but you actually either do not know what anarchism means, or you do not understand what sarcasm and criticism are about. Criticism of someone's actions does not mean endorsing the opposite. Let me spoon-feed you the simplified version since you have difficulties comprehending this: My criticism is not about the lack of respect for lanes; my criticism is of Lebanese people's lack of respect of lanes when THEY try to pass themselves as the best thing that happened to the world, as a "civilized" nation, where law and order are "respected", and so on. In fact, the argument made by racist right-wing Lebanese is that "the Arabs" (they consider themselves Phoenicians not Arabs...) are backward and uncivilized because they do not respect laws, they do not stand in lineups, they do not drive in lanes, and so on. At the same time, THEY do not do any of these things. Do you get it now? Or what?

And by the way, how is driving in the lane necessarily a contradiction with anarchism?? Do you even know what anarchism is about? Perhaps you should go deeper than what your English dictionary is telling you.

Now, as you Americans would say, fuck off if you do not have any point to make.

At May 12, 2007 at 1:52 PM, Blogger Angry Anarchist said...

Marry me :P
Are you tempting me into accepting state authority ???

Unless you mean a pagan marriage in the wilderness? hahahaha...

At May 20, 2007 at 10:47 AM, Blogger AnneMoss said...

Wow, some experience you've had there. Thanks for sharing! Couldn't you have called the police though? I know I would had I seen any civilians with rifles doing this here.

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