Today, Radwan al-Sayyid has disgraced himself and his party with the things he said on air (Sound of Lebanon radio station).
In his attempt to bridge together a sectarian vision of Beirut, which delimits his world, and a national role, which he is supposed to fill as advisor to the Prime Minister, what he said was so riddled with contradictions that it would only make sense if you replace “Beirut” and “Lebanon” with “Sunni.”
Radwan blatantly rejects any calls for sharing the foregone votes in Beirut saying:
They said to us (…) ‘we the Shia and the Aounis have had our sectarian rights in purely Shiite and purely Christian areas and, you Sunnis, we want to share your areas, particularly Beirut.’ They say Beirut is for everyone, Beirut is for everyone, but not for its inhabitants [ie. Sunnis]. When they say it is for everyone, this means it is not for its inhabitants [i.e. Sunnis] (…) We will not allow them to divide Beirut in three. Beirut will remain a city for all Lebanese [i.e. Sunnis] and will remain unified [i.e. for the Sunnis].
But here comes the most disgraceful part:
The first Municipal elections in the East took place in Beirut in 1875. Now the Armenian who has nothing in Armenia wants a third of Beirut? How? I don’t understand anything of what is being said and I do not believe Hizballah wants to become a protector of ethnic and religious minorities.
Eh, 3ala mahlak la tifham, ya Dr. Radwan.
One, there were Armenians in Beirut before the first municipal elections – which, by the way, took place in 1878, not 1875. But it is understandable that a round number falls on the lighter side of a mind narrowed to the point of oblivion by sectarian and chauvinistic thought. In addition, most of the Armenians who came to Lebanon had never seen Armenia in their life. They escaped the massacres in present day Turkey, see, otherwise they would not be here. To most, if not all Armenians in Beirut today, Beirut is the only home they have ever known and their belonging to the city should not even be a subject of discussion by anyone, let alone by the Prime Minister’s advisor!
Two, what about your allies, Dr. Radwan? Your Christian and Druze allies. Do they figure anywhere in this vision of Beirut you like to dream about?
Three, Beirut is the capital of Lebanon. Before that, and since 1888, it was the capital of the Vilayet of Beirut. By definition, a capital of a country belongs to the entire population. But if you are so concerned about representing the inhabitants of Beirut, why did your party reject having Beirut as one electoral district with proportional representation, as has been suggested in Doha? And let us not open the can of worms, shall we, and discuss how the inhabitants of a city, born and raised in it, need to travel places to vote in parliamentary elections.
Four, since he has brought this upon himself, someone should tell Dr. Radwan that at the time of the first municipal elections in 1878, only 263 Sunnis were eligible to stand for elections compared to 461 Christians (see Jens Hanssen’s Fin de Siècle Beirut). How would you like it if someone used this against you and your sect, Dr. Radwan?
So, what is it, Radwan: you want to pack up and move into the present and keep whatever little integrity you have left, or do you want to travel down history lane and face the unpleasant facts?