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