No revolution in Lebanon

The hackers infiltrated several government websites and posted a picture of a naked, malnourished man feeding a big, fat guy in a suit

By DIANA MUKKALED

The community of bloggers and cyber-activists in Lebanon recently hailed the courage of internet hackers who crashed websites belonging to ministerial and state bodies, temporarily suspending their activities.

Their celebration of this hacking attempt was akin to a visceral reaction stemming from a strong desire to do something, or at least engage in some action – even negative action – in order to shake off the stagnation and lethargy that has plagued life in Lebanon for years.

Perhaps this hacking operation has tapped into the daring and dynamic “revolutionary” ambition of the Facebook page “We are all Khaled Said”, and its role in mobilizing the Egyptian masses and igniting their revolution. The Lebanese hackers posted a message on the websites that they hacked, which seemed to resemble a general statement, entitled “raise your voice”.

The message expressed general frustration at living conditions in Lebanon, and called for action and an end to the state of submission. The Lebanese online community subsequently seized upon this signal and began to repeat the question that they have continued to ask for more than a year: Is it time for a revolution in Lebanon? Will the mass hacking of Lebanese state websites lead to people descending onto the street to take part in demonstrations, the emergence of a revolution and the overthrow of the regime?

These activists previously asked this same question with demonstrations that called for the abolition of sectarianism, positive that this would lead to the mobilization of the Lebanese street; however their hopes in this regard quickly faded. Female Lebanese activists also hoped that Lebanese women’s rights issues would serve as the catalyst to ignite the masses, prompting demonstrations and a revolution, but they were also left disappointed.

Why is the counter-revolutionary force stronger than the revolutionary force which is calling for a revolution in Lebanon similar to what we have seen elsewhere in the Arab Spring?

It seems that the celebrations surrounding the recent online hacking operations are merely an expression of compensation, particularly as Lebanese online activists feel unable to properly engage in the movement of change that is spanning the length and breadth of the Arab world.

Yes, Lebanon is outside the wider movement of change, but ever since the outbreak of Arab revolutions, key figures in Lebanese public life have always attempted to exploit this change for their own interests. Initially Hezbollah tried to invest in the Egyptian revolution, believing that the overthrow of a “non-resistance” regime would serve its interests, but after the Egyptian revolution spread to Syria we find that Hezbollah is today questioning the Arab revolutions as a whole.

The March 14 Alliance has also not escaped this conundrum, particularly as the Syrian revolution, in theory, was supposed to serve its interests. However today, we find one of the March 14 Alliance leaders, former Lebanese President Amine Gemayel, expressing his reservations about change in Syria, exploiting the minorities fears of the rise of the Islamists.

This internal confusion is one of many unique factors that account for the failure of the Lebanese revolution project.

Weapons, sectarianism, corruption, and the fears of minorities are all helping to divide Lebanon. These divisions will not allow online activists to do anything more than celebrate their sporadic hacking operations, and thus Lebanon will remain outside the revolutionary flock.

Al Arabiya