On Smoking Ban, one Beirut Restaurant Lives up to its Name


– The management of Dictateur bullies opponents of smoking– (Photo by Gino)

Who does the owner of Dictateur, a funky Beirut club for the cool crowd, call a “slut”, verbally assault and violently exhort to leave the place? Try Dalal Mawad, an accomplished young journalist who has worked for the UN, The New York Times, and Aljazeera.

Her crime? She has dared to complain about the fact that people are smoking in his restaurant, which is against the law. “I’m sick of people like you.”, he thundered as he unloaded onto her and told her to leave. The details are chilling, and you need to read about them in Dalal’s blog. We can’t stay silent about this.

The ‘weak’ party

I got in touch with Dalal and asked her about her takeaway from the incident. She responded that there are many cases like hers, and that she knows “many people who got phone call threats or got yelled at”. “Citizens should be protected for reporting violations,” she wrote, “they should feel safe to do so. The government is neither implementing nor helping. There is no accountability mechanism at our disposal , 1735 is not reliable half of the time”, in reference to the phone line designated to report smoking violators.

Lebanese smokers are notoriously aggressive in their disregard of the law. They use tactics like threatening to withhold tips and boycotting businesses that enforce the law. They guilt their nonsmoking friends into dining in smoking areas and they get into tantrums if they don’t get their way. This has resulted in club owners seeing the opponents of smoking as the “weak” party, and have gone to such extremes that it became normal to assault and abuse those who dare complain. This can be changed..

Name and Shame

In a previous post, I wrote about the potential for social media to act as a deterrent to blatant acts of disregard of the law. We now have the tools to publicly shame those who don’t think twice about bullying and abusing those are calling for the law to be implemented.

If we don’t use these tools, you could be the next person to be abused. So do take part in loudly objecting to what happened to Dalal. If you’re a blogger, write about his. Share her post, share this post, or head over to Dictateur’s facebook wall to let them know that you’re not happy with what happened..

Update: The management issued an apology, which if you ask me, feels half-hearted and not from the Owner himself (who called Dalal a slut).

  • Anonymous

    Umm Dude???
    “Lebanese smokers are notoriously aggressive in their disregard of the law. They use tactics like threatening to withhold tips and boycotting businesses that enforce the law.”

    They are free to go wherever they please and to do whatever they please with their money aren’t they?

    • Abaretruth

      Sadly the power of money is an almighty ruler in Lebanon. Some establishment are abiding by the law and those are the places we need to support and encourage.

  • http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lebanese-Voices/328197809461?ref=ts racha

    When smokers become aggressive, you know there is a serious problem and the the law must be in place. Lebanese Logic is so flawed!

  • Anonymous

    Served her right. She has a problem, she can leave. Oh wait, she did. Santimonious harpy.

    • http://www.myfabricplac.com hisham

      The persons smoking were smoking illegally. They were braking the law of the land. Do you approve of this? Furthermore, they were polluting the space she was in trying to have a peaceful dinner. Was she entitled to this or not in your eyes. She was their victim. The owner should apologize publicly and have his apology printed in all the newspapers, if you ask me.

  • http://boredatworkentertainme.blogspot.com ughh

    …And that is why our tourism audience is limited… No big bucks millionaire would ever spend their hard earned money in a place where customers are treated like shit…

    • http://www.myfabricplac.com hisham

      Our big bucks and small bucks millionaires are staying away for 1001 reasons other than that. In fact we do treat our tourists very well. But our politicians and political system sucks, leaving all and sundry wrong with our state. It is slowly sinking into a jungle way or running the place. They cannot arrange a tea party this lot. Every man for himself.

  • parmenion

    The bottom line is this.
    WHO IS ANYONE OR ANY GOVERNMENT AGENCY TO HAVE THE AUDACITY TO TELL ME, OR ANYONE, WHAT THEY CAN DO IN THEIR OWN PRIVATE PROPERTY WHEN IT DOES NOT AFFECT ANYONE WHO DOES NOT CHOOSE TO GO THERE? You do not have a right to a smoke free bar. You do not have a right to a smoke free McDonald’s. If you want it build it. If there is a demand for it then it will come which is how the free market works.

    This is not the end. This is not the beginning either. It is another stop in the ongoing campaign to turn the entire world into one big nanny state. It is not right. It is not fair. It is more government intrusion into our private lives and into private enterprise. It is an attack on civil liberties and people are too blind to see it.

    WHERE DO WE DRAW THE LINE? Are Happy Meals being banned next? Perhaps no salt? No drinks over 16 ounces? Last I checked heart disease IS the number one killer so why would it be far fetched to go there? When will this government control reach the home? When is the government going to tell me I can’t fry my potatoes in a certain oil in my own kitchen because it’s unhealthy?
    Yes, the people will adjust all right. But this smoking ban is NOT a good thing.

  • http://www.myfabricplac.com hisham

    For me they don’t do any where near enough interfering. They should interfere and interfering is badly needed in this country. Double parking comes to mind to mention just one simple thing that you see every day every where and the government, the traffic controllers, the police you name it do not interfere and they should. And please stop and think it will be for your own good and others if they do interfere and enforce the law. As for smoking in restaurants crowded with people, the smoke is poison. So, no one should be free to blow it at others. Thank you.