Oh God not the ZwZ debate…again…

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A blog written a couple of days back by blogger Gino [from Gino’s blog ] caused a stir among Lebanon’s social media platforms with debates raging between opposers and supporters of Zaatar w Zeit’s Sharia subject branch in Lebanon’s ultra-liberal Hamra street. I’m seriously not even gonna think about writing or re-writing the entire story pertaining to Mr Gino’s encounter at the restaurant, but to make a long story short, the man was refused both bacon and a bottle of beer due to a policy applied by the landlord of the otherwise famous chain restaurant revered for its Halloumi-Bacon sandwich.

Many, and I mean many attacked the blogger for saying that he has blacklisted that particular branch for “shoving religious beliefs down his atheist throat”.  He was labeled “sectarian”, “narrow minded” among many other derogatory terms.

I really don’t wanna be burnt at the stake before my weekend kicks in but here are my two cents.

ZwZ is a chain restaurant that otherwise serves the debated items elsewhere. That being said, the management responded to Gino’s inquiry in which it blamed the landlord for subjugating them to Sharia law. Now whether that’s legal or not is out of my jurisdiction.  But several restaurants in Hamra do not serve alcohol, bacon and other items deemed unfavorable by many, not once have I read a blog bewailing those (independent) restaurants.

On the other hand, all the blogger intended to say (from my interpretation of the reading) was that ZwZ was “forced” into compliance. This for me is where the issue begins, and yes…yes, ZwZ should’ve picked somewhere else, but with the shortage of real estate supply in the area, I’m guessing they had no other choice. The responsible thing to do on the part of the management was to place a “Halal” sign at the doorstep of the restaurant, that way they would’ve safeguarded their management’s professional reputation in terms of transparency and “you get what you pay for” code. Their failure to do so is where their share of the blame falls.

As for the reactions that followed from those who read the blog, that is a different topic all together. Many people, mainly conservatives, slammed Gino; some even name called him “sectarian” whilst telling him to go to Achrafieh for his beer and bacon, ya3ni in other words you stay in your canton and I’ll stay in mine. Walaw Lebanon? Scientists are on the edge of discovering life on Mars (so to speak) and here we are feeding a vicious downward spiral a-la-bacon and beer style.

If your religious or personal beliefs stipulate that you shouldn’t be anywhere in the proximity of alcohol or bacon then I suggest you eat home, and this is not an offence, not at all so please before running forward with a pitchfork, hear me out. Studies have shown that almost all foods contain pork by-products, including so-called vegetarian jello, chocolates, sweets etc. The pork derived gelatin is everywhere, even in film coated vitamin tablets (the coat is partly made of the gelatin). It is used by chefs in almost all restaurants as a food coagulator. On the other hand alcohol is everywhere too, even in soft drinks including Coca-Cola and Pepsi, according to new findings by the National Institute of Consumption in Paris…If you don’t believe me then please by all means do your own research. Almost all taste enhancers contain pork enzyme. There have been many books written about the “dangers” of eating out for the ultra-conservative Muslims so please, please do your research.

I’m against all forms of prejudice be they religious or cultural whereby one group imposes their beliefs on others. So many businesses have declared bankruptcy in Sidon, Tripoli and Dahiyeh due to dare I say Islamic bullying. Many shops were burnt or bombed by fundamentalists who then go for a meal at the local McDonald’s thinking that the product is Halal (because good ol’ Mc Clown says so).

Please guys, keep an open heart and an open mind. It’s God damn time we rise above this triviality.

is currently the editor/blogger for LBCI Online English News and LBCBlogs. She received her Honors in Communication Arts (Media Production) from The University of Western Sydney in 2008.

For those interested to read further into this here are a couple of references:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2529358/

http://www1.american.edu/ted/pork-enzyme.htm#r1

http://special.worldofislam.info/Food/numbers.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/28/alcohol-soda_n_1635190.html

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9 Comments add one

  1. Jad says:

    Great article. Great response…love it. I still have only 4 hours of electricity a day and we are worried about this!

  2. Lynda Mahfouz says:

    Well said! I just wish it was that easy to rise above this triviality as you call it. Sadly, this is a country where we will always have aggressive religious debates over issues that touch certain aspects of religion even in the smallest slightest way.
    We’ve been telling people to keep an open heart and an open mind for ages, wishing each year things would gradually change, but apparently things are not changing. If any, things are going for the worse. Sad but true.
    Love your post by the way :) clever approach.

    • M.M says:

      You don’t rise above the triviality by forcing a world-view on others, you do that by debating and communicating, by agreeing upon common grounds, by cooperating for common good.

      I sure hoped we had “aggressive religious debates” (I don’t know where you watch those), all we have is “aggressive sectarian debates” led by businessmen and politicians with religion as a merchandise.

  3. Joumana says:

    Good article but i am afraid that those people who it is suppose to enlight are the people who dont read but their own tight and narrowminded book who tells them that a MIGHTY God gets angry if they eat porc.

  4. Youssef says:

    I would also rather have the option to get served pork and beer in ZwZ. But reading Gino’s article and yours, I think people’s responses have been harsh due to the way you guys have approached the issue. It seems like you are attacking the religion, as opposed to the idea of having the freedom to eat what you want.
    You can say “no offence”, but most of the times when using these 2 words, offence is taken. Plus no where in Gino’s piece was Sharia law written. That’s my point, the fact that you use Sharia law (which makes no sense at all in this case) is what upsets people.
    Again, I am with the eating and drinking what you want, but I fully disagree with the way you and Gino have written on this issue. It showed more intolerance and hatred from your side then from ZWZ.
    “No offence”, but this is the most ridiculous paragraph I’ve read,”If your religious or personal beliefs stipulate that you shouldn’t be anywhere in the proximity of alcohol or bacon …”. It might true, but to mention it in this context is purely hatred and intolerance, and for sure offence is going to be taken.

    I tried my best explaining why there was a lot of hatred in replies to Gino’s post. Thanks for reading.

  5. abaretruth says:

    I didn’t follow the debate regarding ZWZ but this is the first response I read that actually makes sense. If the landlord rent his space under certain conditions, it is his right. We most preach regarding our rights and liberty, yet we bedevil those we don’t agree with.

  6. Garo says:

    Gino has the right to express his feelings, and he was very clear in his article, he did not force anyone to do anything, but when i am going out to eat, i do not eat from a place that does not serve alcohol, even if i do not want to drink, because by not serving alcohol they are making a statement and i am against that statement.

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