Dr. Karim Émile Bitar to France 24: “Beirut blast investigation: ‘We are witnessing the complete collapse of our entire judicial system'”

Dr. Karim Émile Bitar wears several academic and expert hats. He is an Associate Professor of International Relations at Lebanon’s Université Saint-Joseph (USJ), an Associate Fellow at the Geneva Center for Security Policy (GCSP), a Research Associate at Brussels’ Institut Medea, an Associate Research Fellow at the Institute for International and Strategic Affairs in Paris (IRIS). He is also a Professor of International Relations and of History of Political Thought at many French Grandes Écoles. He regularly testifies before the Foreign Affairs Committees of the French and European Parliaments. Professor Bitar graduated from prestigious universities in Paris and Canada, including McGill University. In addition to Law, he studied Administration, Economics, and International Relations. He knows what he is talking about when he warns us that: “We are witnessing the complete collapse of our entire judicial system“. Is anyone hearing from the international community and… what is next for Lebanon?!

Beirut blast investigation: Bambi stands in FULL solidarity with Judge Tarek Bitar!

Bambi would like to thank her friend Leila for kindly attracting her attention to this SHOCKING, yet not surprising, development from out of Beirut.

Below is Al Jazeera brief video explaining this development in English with the following YouTube text: “Lebanon’s top prosecutor on Wednesday filed charges against the judge investigating the Beirut port blast, a judicial source said, and ordered the release of all those detained in connection with the port explosion. Ghassan Oweidat’s decision signals escalating opposition by Lebanon’s ruling class to efforts by Judge Tarek Bitar to resume investigations into the 2020 blast after a 13-month break. Aya Majzoub is the deputy director for the middle east at Amnesty International. She joins us from Beirut to discuss the latest update”.

But first here is what will happen in Beirut in a few hours: thank you journalist Roula Douglas for keeping us informed with a re-tweet of a call for a demonstration on Thursday, at 11 AM in front of Beirut Justice Palace by Committee of the Families of the victims of the Beirut port blast of August 4, 2020.

SHAME on the governing class of Lebanon and, once again, may God protect Judge Bitar, the hero of both Beirut and Bambi’s heart. He deserves a Nobel Peace Prize, not a spoke in his (legal) wheels or threats to his safety. Beirutis, and especially families of the victims, deserve justice. Lebanon deserves an end to impunity, starting with this criminal negligence. Enough is enough!

When will impunity end? When will justice and respect for the victims and their families prevail?

Mr. Mario Dumont: “Bill 21: Trudeau stirs up trouble” [“Loi 21: Trudeau sème le trouble”]

Thank you, Mr. Mario Dumont for your clever article about Bill 21, which Bambi took the time to read and appreciate. As readers of this blog know, Bambi has many older posts on this bill, some are shown at the end of this one. In her mind, even it is not a perfect bill (and even if, in an ideal world, there is no need for such bills to support the state’s secularism), it is made by and for Québec, according to its own historical society’s choices based on its different culture. It came after a decade of public debates. It is moderate, especially compared to some European countries and contrary to what the mainstream media has been writing about it. One has only to go to the source and read the bill to notice this (ttps://bit.ly/3R4rh3m).

This being said, it is now reassuring for Bambi to learn that Bill 21 “has established a balance, a relative social peace on this sensitive issue” to Québec. When would balance, social peace, and ideally unity also spread to the rest of Canada? Anyhow, below you can find a translation of Mr. Dumont’s article while acknowledging the assistance of Bambi’s faithful friend Google Translate.

“I am convinced that if Justin Trudeau seems obsessed with attacking the power of the provinces to override the Charter, it is largely due to Bill 21. Regulating the wearing of religious symbols in his multicultural world is simply not an option. . Since that day, he has been preparing a counter-offensive.

Bill 96 on the protection of French and Doug Ford’s recent project to restrict the right to strike served as pretexts for him to find his angle of attack.

According to him, the provinces are abusing the notwithstanding clause. The great federal wise, holder of truth and guardian of good morals, must intervene to chaperone them.

Justin Trudeau hates Bill 21 for ideological reasons. Imposing restrictions on religious freedom will never suit him, even in the name of state secularism. Moreover, his offensive seemed to him politically profitable.

A success

However, if we put ideologies aside, Bill 21 must be seen as a real success for Québec society. Almost four years after its adoption, the Law on secularism has established a balance, a relative social peace on this sensitive issue.

Without being perfect, this legislation turned the page on more than a decade of differences and tensions.

Remember the debate over unreasonable accommodations, which was actually a realization that unreasonable accommodations had become the norm.

Overwhelmed by the situation, Jean Charest had mandated the Bouchard-Taylor Commission to find possible solutions.

The Commission provided useful clarification on the issue of accommodation and recommended the banning of religious symbols for government employees in positions of authority.

Chess Series

A decade of pirouettes and political failures followed. Jean Charest tried to shelve this report which divided his party. Then the PQ tabled its Charter of Values, a poorly measured effort that never came to fruition.

Then, the Couillard government passed an incomplete bill on open public services.

When François Legault was elected, the file had become complicated. Bill 21 on secularism managed to offer a balanced response, giving effect, eleven years later, to the Bouchard-Taylor report.

The result is positive. There has been no mass exodus of future teachers or future police officers.

The line is drawn in terms of wearing religious symbols, it is clear, and we don’t talk about that anymore, if not very little.

This is the kind of social peace that a government seeks. Bill 21 created this balance.

Today, it is Justin Trudeau who wants to put the trouble back by reopening the whole debate”.

Beirut blast: Judge Tarek Bitar resumes his investigation!

Judge Tarak Bitar, featured in an older post shown below, resumed the Beirut port blast investigation, which has been frozen for over a year, as per several Canadian (https://bit.ly/3XJ3PLu), Lebanese, (https://bit.ly/3kAAp3E), and European media (https://bit.ly/3iYLWtb). This is clearly a positive step forward!

Of course, one must wait to observe what will unfold on the ground. May God protect this decent judge. For now, Bambi will repeat saying the following: thank you and bravo, Judge Bitar, for your courage and tenacity. Today, you gave hope to the families of the victims, to people of your country, and to Beirut’s lovers abroad. You are a hero of peace. Good luck in ending impunity for this criminal negligence!

By the way, since we are at it, when will impunity for financial crime also end, Bambi cannot help not to wonder? In one of the largest Ponzi schemes in the world, Lebanon’s Ponzi finance scheme bankrupted the people of this country, “causing” them “unprecedented social and economic pain“, according to the World Bank (https://bit.ly/3Hn2hBk). For the record, some of this blog’s earlier posts on this fiasco are shown at this end of this one.

How about honouring Iraq today with music?

Bambi has an earlier post on a wonderful song called “Planet” [El Kawkab in Arabic] by the much talented Ms. Rahma Riad, shown below. Today, she discovered a joyful patriotic song, by this Iraqi singer and actress (https://bit.ly/3kCIogv), which pays tribute to her country. This song is entitled “Aash el Irak” [Long live Iraq in English].

Bambi did not have the opportunity to visit this country yet. However, it is nice to see beautiful pictures out of it, like in the video, instead of tragic news about it. May the Iraqi people see bright(er) days of unity, safety, greater prosperity, and love. May the entire Middle East live in peace and shine.

Do you have plans for the National Hugging Day?

Bambi has older posts devoted to national or international days of this or that, as you can see below. Some designated days seem more meaningful like violin or a hug. Others look odd, like whipped cream, even if tasty.

Often, we do not know who came up with those ideas. However, today is a day filled with touch and love. Yes, it is the National Hugging Day and we know who invented it!

Indeed, the National Hugging Day, which is dedicated to hugging, was invented in 1986 by Mr. Kevin Zaborney from Clio in Michigan, USA (https://bit.ly/3iViYKO). It seems that his idea was meant to cheer his fellow citizens up at a time of the year where they are typically “in low spirits“. According to Mr. Zaborney (https://bit.ly/3iViYKO), in his society, people are reluctant, if not embarrassed, to show feelings in public. What is more heart-warming than a genuine hug? It is even more significant after so many months of strict public health measures where people were socially isolated.

Will your day include a hug? Sometimes, we can sing for hugs, like the kids’ song below or like in love songs, at least in Lebanese songs, or even in some spiritual songs. We can ask a certain God we believe in to hug us. We can even sing for a self-hug (yes all this is available on YouTube). If you do not have anyone to give a hug to or to receive a hug from today, you can always give yourself a hug.

With love: A wink to the late Firas who inspired Bambi’s blog!

A picture of Firas in Washington, taken from his own blog.
We ALL miss you!

Bambi cannot end this day without sending a wink to her childhood friend Firas (or Serge)… in heaven. As many readers know, the first page of this blog includes a text written for him at the same time of his funeral, which took place in Lebanon. The entire spirit of this blog, with its underlying song “Die Gedanken sind frei” [Ideas Are Free], is inspired by Firas’ legendary open-mindedness and by those unforgettable memories at the Goethe Institute in Beirut where he and Bambi learned this highly meaningful song together. God knows how much they repeated singing it in the car!

Well, Firas suddenly left us about 17 years ago… and yet, today, it feels like yesterday.

Talking about today, it is your birthday and you would have been in your early fifties.

Bambi misses you so much Firas, today more than ever ❤️. If she may, like every year, she will send her love to your dear sister and her family as well as to your adorable parents. Of course, she also sends her warm regards to all your friends around the world, from Canada to South Africa to the Middle East, etc.

Bambi’s biggest honour was Gigi’s kind and generous support to her; when her blog was under attack. Last year, precisely like today, one of Bambi’s sisters kindly shared with her a moving screenshot of Gigi’s tribute to you, her beloved brother, on your own social media platform. The latter included supportive words to Bambi, along with the logo-picture of this blog. Wow!

To conclude this post with a little musical gift to you Firas, Bambi would like to offer you two songs. The first is one of Fayrouz’ songs because you loved this Lebanese diva a lot. The second is of course Die Gedanken sind frei :). May your memory remain eternal. May your beloved birth and adoptive countries, Lebanon and Canada, be in better places in terms of freedom and of economic prosperity. As for you Firas, please keep watching over us: your inspiring open-mindedness, your beautiful energy, and contagious smile are much needed in our world today!

Beirut blast investigation: If Judge Tarek Bitar is not a peace hero, what is he then?

THANK you Judge Tarek Bitar for your courage and independence in addition to your legal competence and impartiality. Yes, Bambi is happy to read your following statements, as reported by Naharnet citing other media sources (https://bit.ly/3ZKV4SJ):

I will not give up the port file under any pressure.”

I will not step down from this case”.

“The investigation will continue and will not come to an end... I will not surrender to obstruction“.

“I hope the judiciary will reach legal exits that would re-launch the investigation course in an ordinary and regular manner”… with “a drastic and not a temporary solution.”

As a reminder, the surrealistic Beirut port double explosion resulted in 218 deaths, 7500 injuries, 300, 000 instant homeless people, 150+ permanently disabled, over 3/4 of the capital damaged, 4 hospitals totally destroyed, US$15, 000, 000, 000 worth of damage. All this in addition to those who have been traumatized; many of whom migrated around the world.

Good luck Judge Bitar and… thank you for the hope of justice!

Messrs. Patrick Bruel, Patrick Fiori, Florent Pagny, and Jean-Charles Papi: Do their voices, singing “Terra Corsa”, give you goosebumps?

The unforgettable Corsica….

In a rather random way, Bambi came across this heart-moving song. It is entitled “Terra Corsa“. Its lyrics appear in both Corsican and English languages, following this Youtube video (ps://bit.ly/3krUObd).

First, bravo to Mr. Patrick Bruel, Mr. Patrick Fiori, Mr. Florent Pagny, and Mr. Jean-Charles Papi for their outstanding interpretation!

Bambi has all the reasons of the world to be moved by this song, including a LOVE story with the Island of Corsica ❤️ and WONDERFUL, short yet highly intense, family memories there. She would like to dedicate this song to each of her family members in Sackville, Beirut, Paris, and Dubai. She loves you all… beyond any word, or any note, of any language, including the universal music ❤️❤️!!!

Corsican Land

Corsican land, so beloved

I hold you in my heart

From near or from afar

When I sing, I sing for you

Corsican land, luminous

With beauty like no other

Rare pearl of the blue sea

When I dream, I dream of you

He who leaves, knows

That one day he will return

To his roots in Corsican land

To stay forever on our land

Corsican land, witness

Of sorrows and joys

Head held high and proud heart

If I speak, I speak of you

Corsican land, mother land

Courageous and generous

You gave so many sons

To glory, to posterity

As the Virgin, Our Lady

And Queen of our island,

Turns her gaze to this Corsican land,

When she prays, she prays for you

Corsican land, holy land

When my life comes to an end

I want to sleep in Corsican land

My last dream of eternity“.

Terra Corsa

“Terra corsa tantu amata

Eu ti tengu in core à mè

Di vicinu ò di luntanu

Quandu cantu, cantu per tè

Terra corsa luminosa

Di bellezza cum’ùn ci n’hè

Di l’azzuru a perla rara

Quandu sognu, sognu di tè

Quellu chi si ne và

Sà chi un ghjornu riturnerà

A e so radighe in terra corsa

In terra nostra per sempre stà

Terra corsa testimonia

Di dulore e d’alegrie

Capu altu e core fieru

S’eu parlu, parlu di tè

Terra corsa, terra madre

Curagiosa e generosa

Ai datu tanti figlioli

A la gloria, posterità

Cum’è a Vergina Madona

E regina di a nostr’isula

Gira i so occhji per ‘ssa terra Corsa

Quand’ella prega, prega per tè

Terra Corsa, terra Santa

Quandu a mio vita finiscerà

Eu vogliu dorme in terra Corsa

L’ultimu sognu d’eternità“.

Supporting Academic Freedom: Bravo to Québec Minister of Higher Education for speaking out against censorship and discrimination in the universities of her province!

Bravo to Minister Pascale Dery for sending a letter to all the Presidents of Québec universities reminding them of the value of academic freedom, denouncing censorship as well as the discriminatory practices of the so-called EDI (Equity, Diversity, Inclusion) in attributing Canada Research Chairs. Finally, someone standing up against this federally-imposed divisiveness!

Below, you can find her tweet and her letter, all in the official language of Québec. However, Bambi unofficially translated it for you below, with the help of her faithful friend, Mr. Google Translate.

First, Ms. Dery’s tweet, which publicly shared her letter, reads as follows: “I sent a letter to the universities in order to position myself on the importance of academic freedom. Let’s work together for workplaces exempt of censorship“.

Ms. Dery’s beautiful letter to the Presidents of Québec universities (French content) appears following Bambi’s unofficial English translation:

“Québec, January 16, 2023

Ladies and gentlemen, the leaders of the universities of Québec

With regard to recent events that have punctuated the news and fuelled the controversy that exists between the pursuit of objectives favouring diversity and inclusion in higher education and the protection of fundamental and universal values, such as freedom of education and research, a clarification is needed.

Québec’s bill on academic freedom in universities provides institutions with all the necessary tools in order to ensure that these fundamental values ​​are respected and even enriched. The purpose of this bill is to better support academic institutions in the framework of academic freedom and in promoting growth in future decades.

Under no condition should we tolerate censorship in academic institutions. Censorship inhibits thinking and thinking in the grip of fear hinders the pursuit of excellence, which is at the heart of the university’s mission. We cannot sacrifice academic freedom in the name of certain specific struggles, with the risk of losing both at the end of the line.

Academic freedom constitutes the very foundation on which higher education was built and must continue to be so. It shapes our actions, thoughts, and our way of envisioning higher education, not only for the benefit of the student and teaching community, but also for the benefit of the Québec society as a whole. It is inseparable from democratic pluralism, which represents the backbone of our common institutions. This academic freedom is not only a core value, but it is also a Québec value of which we are proud. It is my duty to remind you of this and to ensure that it is respected.

This being so, the pursuit of objectives aimed at diversity and inclusion within educational institutions is legitimate and necessary. This approach promotes equal opportunities because we all want educational environments that promote growth, both personally and academically.

However, under no circumstances should these objectives lead in any way to any form of discrimination or injustice. However, the requirements of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) of programs of Canada Research Chairs, which are set by the federal government, rather restrict certain rights and reduce the primacy of the notions of competence and excellence.

Following a motion that I proposed to the National Assembly last December, Québec’s political class, all parties combined, unanimously denounced these ways of doing things. I underlined that a greater representation of the target groups, underrepresented, must always be carried out in a logic of equal competence. This way of doing things is a the heart of the Québec model, and this in all sectors of society.

It is in this spirit that I have asked the Chief Scientist of Québec to review his evaluation grid in the allocation of research funds by the Fonds de recherche du Québec, so that the EDI criteria are not imperatively predominant, but rather complementary. To do otherwise would endanger excellence, the search of truth and academic freedom.

It is now up to you to achieve this goal. It is about the quality of teaching, research, and the relevance of academia in general.

These expectations are not only those of the government and mine, but they are also those of Québec society. Meeting these expectations is a delicate responsibility that can require difficult trade-offs. This is why, dear leader of university institutions, you can count on my full support in the pursuit of this objective.

Please accept my warmest regards,

Pascale Dery”