05 December 2010

Trampling Juwaihel, trampling the Constitution

I really didn't want to write about this. But sane people saying insane things on twitter have finally driven me to it.

When a football game ends beautifully and a fight breaks out in the crowds, it doesn't nullify the game's result.

What happened yesterday at Diwan Alsa'adoun was beautiful. Twenty-six people representing a diverse segment of the population spoke for the constitution and against the government's plain to void it.

Even people for the government, MP AlHuraiti/ MP Hussain Mizeed spoke unequivocally for the constitution and for preserving Parliament's role as a watchdog over the cabinet.

It was a beautiful event that expressed clearly how frustrated everyone was with government and the disdain it has for us.

Unfortunately, while MP Msalam Al-Barrak was speaking at the podium, we heard shouting outside. (We were in the basement.) Organizers stopped us from going out or having anyone come downstairs till the mayhem was over.

Al-Barrack stopped for a few seconds and but continued speaking ignoring the chaos in the diwaniya (visible from the big screens).

Word was Juwaihel spat at Musalam's face as he walked across a big screen, an obvious provocation. Juwaihel got beaten up by a mob outside, while the police, who were too busy giving out parking tickets, didn't step in to stop the fight but waited for orders.

He got really hurt. It was a sad event. I wish it hadn't happened. It's wrong to beat up people with which we disagree. But I won't waste my tears on him. Aljuwaihel knew what he was getting into in coming, he took a calculated ($$$$) risk.

On a more personal note, I was shocked by the reactions of people I consider sane, logical and funny online. People were spewing his hate all over the place. "اللي طقوه مزدوجين" ..."هذوله لفو"... "هذا اللي ياخذه السعدون من البدو" Comments about not the constitution changing but the people are veiled racist comments about bedu. Let's not kid ourselves with our talk about unity.

The people who beat him up were so very wrong but I can find a few excuses for them: group mind, emotionally charged setting, young age...whatever. But for someone who was sitting at home tapping at a keyboard spewing hate, what's their excuse?

The messages were disgusting and I ended up un-following a bunch of my favorite tweeters because racism isn't funny. We don't know who beat him up (whether they're bedu, 7athar, shia). It doesn't matter. It shouldn't have any bearing on our judgement of the incident or the event.

I hope Juwaihel gets better soon, I really do. But he isn't the only thing that's being trampled in this country: our constitution is. And I find preserving our constitution and the potency of democratic institutions much more troubling than a bunch of thugs beating up a hatemonger.

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