Thursday, March 16, 2017

Trimming videos via FFMPEG

After continuous insisting from my friends, I have recently set up my Steam account and purchased two games, Portal and Portal 2. And I have also been recording the screen and audio while playing just for archival and other purposes such as uploading them to YouTube and profit from videos that get high hits.

Portal 2, for example has many chapters and in each chapter you have a singnificant set of levels to finish to levels. Chapter 1 of Portal 2 has 19 levels. Nonetheless, after recording one hour session, I had to split them later.

I found intially an excellent trimmmer that is really useful in QuickTime: 

However, the process was incredibly time-consuming. So, I thought I want to do it via coding and it was easier than I imagined.

Indeed, the first library that came was FFmpeg: the revolutionary and prominent and useful and capabable video editing software on existence.

FFmpeg is way more capable than just trimming videos, so trimming via FFmpeg was very easy. Searching through their official documentation, I was able to find this link.

In short the ffmpeg command needed for trimming is this:
ffmpeg -i input.mp4 -ss 00:01:40 -to 00:02:12 -c copy output.mp4

I have tested it tons of times and found out it is the fastest and safest way to trim videos. Here are the parameters in short: 
  • -i: This specifies the input file. In that case, it is (input.mp4).
  • input.mp4: This your input file. You can name it as anything you want.
  • --s: Used with -i, this seeks in the input file (input.mp4) to position. 
  • 00:01:00: This is the time your trimmed video will start with.
  • -to: This specifies duration from start (00:01:40) to end (00:02:12).
  • 00:02:00: This is the time your trimmed video will start with.
  • -c copy: This is an option to trim via stream copy.
  • output.mp4: This your output file. You can name it as anything you want.
You can run the ffmpeg command on any bash terminal and it will run smoothly. Nonetheless, if you want to trim around 13 videos you'd have to write the command 13 times, which left me annoyed. So, I had to write a small python script take care of it.

You can run this code by simply calling python and indeed you have to change the arguments.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Answering LOST's most confusing questions

Fifteen years ago, a phenomenal ground-breaking series aired on Abc Family, the show is called "LOST".  This show was confusing to plenty of viewers who especially didn't understand the ending and plenty of confusing questions throughout the series. I have recently rewatched the whole series and I will attempt to answer most of LOST's confusing questions.

Why didn't the black smoke kill the candidates when he had the chance, why put them on a submarine with a bomb? 

The thing is, candidates, selected by Jacob, the protector of the Island, are immune to death by the black smoke. While the black smoke can kill anyone he wants, he cannot kill the candidates. Candidates include Jack, Hurley and Sawyer. The black smoke is "extremely smart" and manipulated everyone throughout the series. The black smoke wanted all the candidates dead to be able to escape the Island, so what he has done is manipulated them to be on a submarine with a timed bomb. The black smoke realized that they would try to stop the bomb by messing with the wires and thus they would cause their own death, instead of the black smoke!  Jack, who realized the bomb cannot explode since it was set by the black smoke, couldn't prevent Sawyer, who tried and failed. So the bomb exploded.

How did Jack's dead father appear on the Island? 

The black smoke posted as Jack's dead father on the Island. So Jack was not hallucinating when his father on the island. A reminder that the black smoke and pose in any dead person's body. 

What was the horse Kate saw on the Island? 

The horse is still a mystery, however, my best guess is that the black smoke was trying to mess with Kate by posing as a horse. 

Why didn't Sayid stop Claire from killing Kate? 

Sayid's case got complicated. After dying from a gunshot, he was restored back to life with the help of the black smoke. Thus, Sayid lost his feelings and was only responding to the black smoke's requests. Sayid later repents by saving the candidates by running away with the bomb in the submarine.

Why didn't Jacob prevent himself from being killed by Ben? 

That's a very good question. Jacob was a very a cool character and really didn't give a damn plenty of times. There was no self-defense in the process of his murder. My best guess is that Jacob really trusted Ben and thought Ben would never harm him after being loyal all those years. Miles Straume, the spiritualist hired by Charles Widmore to go to the Island and has the ability to read the final thoughts of the deceased was able to hear Jacob's thoughts before his death and they were: I wish I was wrong about Ben.

Did Ben kill or order the death of the real Henry Gale? 

I would say: Definitely. Ben stole his identity, and knew where he was buried. 

What order did Desmond not follow that led to his dismissal in the army?

I don't believe Desmond ignored orders. The thing, Desmond started moving though time and places while being in the army so he was irresponsive and thus seen unfit to stay in the army.

Who is this person linked to Jack, his father Christian, and half-sister Claire?

We don't know. There is no reference to the "person" in the entire series.

Why does Ben insist that the Oceanic Six, as well as Locke, have to return to the Island?

Because they were candidates, and candidates have to protect island by preventing the black smoke from exiting the island. 

Why can Jacob leave the Island but the Smoke Monster can't?

As long as there are candidates, the black smoke cannot leave the Island, he's stuck. The black smoke cannot kill candidates too so they have to kill themselves. Candidates were picked since there were very young by Jacob.

What is the "infection"?

From CRACKED: "It is the word used to describe people under the Smoke Monster's influence. Claire was infected. Rousseau's husband and team were infected. Sayid was infected, until the power of love gave the infection the business."

Is Juliet Alive? And did she reset the chain of events with brought the passengers of Oceanic Air flight 815 to the island?

Juliet died at the beginning of season 6. She was still breathing before the last goodbye to Sawyer. Sawyer wanted to kill Jack out of anger when she died. So, we're sure that she's dead. Miles Straume, the spiritualist hired by Charles Widmore, also confirmed this when he read her thoughts later after insistence from Sawyer. As for the chain of events, they were not reset! Passengers were still on the island, nonetheless, they weren't in the 80s anywhere. They left the past. I understand how this might be confusing as season 6 aired two chains of events: one in the island and another off the island. I assume what was shown off the island would be the answer to the question: What would have happened if the airplane never crashed and events of Oceanic Air flight 815 are reset?

What Happened to Claire? She's been MIA for three seasons – what's up with that? And what is her son Aaron's role in the island's mythology?

Haven't you watched season 6? Claire reappears. It is really unknown what happened for those three seasons. But claire clearly was affected by the Black Smoke. She might have died and brought to life by the Black Smoke (like what happened to Sayeed), we don't know! But what we know is that she was responding to the requests of Black Smoke. Claire lost her sanity. As for her son, I don't know the answer of that. Her son might have no role in the island's mythology.

The Ajira Airways 316 Posse? And who exactly are Ilana and her crew?

Ilana is "summoned to the Island to protect the remaining candidates by Jacob, with whom she had a previous relationship." I recall that she was Jacob's bodyguard and she viewed him as her only "father". She was extremely saddened by his death. 

The Numbers! What is the significance of the numbers (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42), and do they connect somehow to the island or to its powers? And is Hurley truly cursed by them?

You really didn't watch season 6. In short, the numbers correspond to candidates 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42 respectively and one of them is supposed to protect the island. There are tons of pages regarding those numbers, please find them here and here.

When some of the survivors went back to the island on the Ajira flight, why didn't Sun end up in the past? Why was she still on the plane?

Very good question, I will quote lostpedia for this as there are plenty of theories:

1. Sun didn't go back in time because she was not a candidate. There is strong evidence that Jacob and his brother are based of the story of Jacob and Esau from the Old Testament. In a passage from the Old Testament, Jacob wants to pass his convenant through his grandchildren, and touches Manasseh and Ephraim. However, he touches Ephraim with his right hand and Manasseh with his left, proclaiming Ephraim will be a greater person. Similarly, Jacob touches Jin with his right hand and Sun with his left, only making Jin the candidate.

2. Sun wasn't sent back in time because she "betrayed" the Island by working for Charles Widmore just like Ben wasn't sent back in time because he moved the Island when Locke was suppose to and then even worse he came back.

3. Sun wasn't sent back in time because she was carrying a tracking device for Widmore. That is how he planned (successfully) to return to the Island. The tracking device worked as a sort of tether in time.

4. Sun didn't travel back in time because she was originally not supposed to be on Oceanic 815, and thus not supposed to be on the island in the first place. If you remember, she was originally going to leave Jin at the airport, but it was through her free will that she stayed with him. The island made sure she got pregnant so as to force her off the island so she would not travel back to 1977.  She was supposed to leave, but Jack, Kate, Hurley and Sayid were not.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Google's FIDO U2F Security Key: Taking two-step authentication to another level

A prominent Computer Science professor, Dr. Ramzi Haraty, said once "No system is fully and 100% secure". I was 18 years old when I heard that statement back then, and I didn't really take it seriously.

However, as I grew older, I realized how that statement was entirely true, beyond any reasonable doubt. Matter of fact, there isn't any service, login page, software, database or website that cannot be hacked and penetrated.

Even NSA's hidden and encrypted servers were hacked. However, each security system haps his own drastic security measures; some are challenging and tough to break into, and others are trivial.

One company that takes security extremely seriously is: "Google Inc." Behind this simple-looking login page you see on the right; there a monster security system that is beyond any person's imagination:

Matter of fact, if you can hack (not hijack) this page and access a consumer's account, your hack is worth at least: USD 25,000,000.

What Google does to protect the consumer Gmail accounts of their members is astonishing. This includes but not limited:

1. Bug bounty programs: Google pays millions of dollars each year for hackers and security researchers that report bugs to their system. In return, Google would pay cash in exchange for the information. That does push bored and opportunist programmers to start searching for the bugs on the system for hoping to get paid. Eventually, as bugs get reported over the years. They get minimized.

2. Encrypting the web, literally. In summary, this means HTTPS. This encrypts your communications: including passwords, credit card numbers, with many websites, making your browsing more secure. Without HTTPS, anyone spying on your Wifi could get personal information from you.

3. Locking your Gmail if it is signed up via Tor or a different country. If you access your Gmail from another country, it will be locked.

4. Obsessing about the sandbox. Google's security system is designed in a way where they have multiple security layers. That is, if you find one bug inside Google's page and access one protected page, you'll have to find a bug in the next security layer, then move to the next security layer, and so on. So, your chances of getting bugs and breaking this page are close to 0.

Allowing users to set up two-step authentication on their account is another way Google Inc. implemented security on their website. That means, if you log in from a new device, you will have to receive a 6-digit code on your mobile to be able to access the account (the secret code can be provided by a phone call, SMS, or an application known as Google Authenticator or Authy).  That is, even if you know the password of one account, you will not be able to access the account unless you receive that 6-digit code.

That's cool, right?

Not really. Google recently realized, due to their advanced artificially intelligent technologies, that governments are targeting social activists and breaking into their account. So, the standard two-step authentication feature (mobile) would be weak too.

Wait, how come?

Very simple; I'll give you one example. Imagine that you have a Gmail account, and I figured out your password. However, you're an intelligent person and have set up two-step authentication by receiving a phone call.

So, I get stuck here. What do I do? I can impersonate you and go to your mobile provider and claim that I lost your phone number and receive a new SIM card with your phone number.

It might not work in a phone company like Version or AT&T, but in other third world country countries (like Lebanon, for example) it would apparently work due to their pathetic security checks (Alfa or Touch).

Now imagine this. 

A corrupt government targets a journalist or a rebel's Gmail and get his password by spying on him. They can, for example, get access to his phone number and reset the password very quickly by collaborating with the phone company. 

In fact, this has happened as Google announced in a blog spot that since 2012 users have been targeted by state-sponsored attackers.

It might not be the method that I alleged of but I highly suspect it does. They said that they can't reveal the tip-off because hackers can adapt but however they said "Enable two-factor authentication and set up a Security Key" which could highly mean that the attempt goes on by targeting the mobile phone.

Google said they've sent those notices to 0.1% of their users which is a huge number considering there are more than one billion users with Google accounts. 0.1% of 1 billion is 1 million.

Google ended their post with "The security of our users and their data is paramount." which is clear illustrated and because of that you should trust and respect Google more.

So what is a security key?

It is a small USB that can be plugged into your machine to allow access to an account. It is a two-step authentication code that doesn't require a phone number. The full name being "FIDO U2F Security Key"; the security key is based on a U2F is an open authentication standard that empowers two-factor authentication using specialized USB or NFC devices based on similar security technologies found in smart cards. It has been developed by Google and Yubico. U2F security keys can also be used on Dropbox, GitLab, and Bitbucket.

How does it work? 

Once you've got two-step verification enabled and configured the security key. Each time you log in on a new (or unsaved) device, you will be asked to input your own safety key inside the machine, and press a button.

While you may keep the phone call as a backup verification method, I do not recommend since it defeats the primary purpose of the security key.

It is wise to generate backup codes and memorize them (not write them down anywhere) in case you lose the security key or want to login on a mobile phone.

If you decide to use one for your own safety, it is wise not to inform anyone of your friends, colleagues or anyone that you're using this type of security mechanism.

Hackers will adapt to the security features in whatever shape and forms. Let them be surprised if they access your account instead of letting them plan ahead.

Do I use a security key?

Yes, definitely. I have purchased this item on July 14, 2016, and added on July 25, 2016. My experience has been phenomenal as I gradually reduced two-step authentication. I've treated the security as any other standard security key and implemented it as a regular key on a key ring. I've had a bit of a hard time explaining what is this to my family and friends but eventually they got used to it.

How do I buy one?

You can purchase one from (provided by Yubico) for as cheap as $17.99. Configuration is easy and can be done easily on websites like Google or Dropbox.

In Summary

No matter where you go. You will never find anything as secure as your Google account: be it online bank accounts, Microsoft accounts, Facebook accounts, Akamai accounts, etc.  This company is obsessed security and breathes security. If you have sensitive information on your Google account or any critical material, it would be wise to purchase and configure a security key to take advantage to the maximum out of Google's security.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Starting 2017 with the "Nordic" template on this blog

I have recently realized how much I started to hate complicated blogging themes that are full of animations, design and javascript loaded that slows down the page, although I used them for years.

But I have recently realized I want something very simple, a clean cut design that lets u focus on content instead of anything else. I have been very lucky to find "Nordic" template, an immaculate template that was originally designed for Wordpress (a PHP-based slow and vulnerable blogging platform that I dislike) but later converted to Blogger (the robust and secure cloud blogging platform hosted and acquired by Google Inc.)

What I really liked about the Blogger version of the template is that pictures do not show on the main page (which has been an issue in the past).

Simplicity is key. As you see on the right, it is incredibly simple, clean and symmetric. Extremely useful to look at as well it looks well organized. 

By default, around 13 posts are originally posted on the main page, and they're all taking the same size (unlike what you see with other templates).

The share buttons are clean and work efficiently as well.  In some other models, they used to cause lots of headaches because they needed confirmation; and some templates required external add-on libraries.

The search bar looks decent and is hidden by default. But you can toggle it from the button on the right and the search page results. Social media icons are also provided by default on the right.

The page is responsive as well, and it can quickly shrink. There is no need to upload a separate template for mobile (as the option is already provided by Blogger). So the work that needs to be done is minimal.

The hamburger icon automatically appears on the left which is vital to use on the mobile.

Checking the publicly available blog on the service "Am I responsive?" illustrates that the blog looks incredible well on most major portable devices. 

It is worth mentioning that half of the internet's traffic comes from mobile. The mobile may and most likely will be the dominant source of traffic in the future as the people tend to visit websites from mobile devices instead of laptops.

Mobile responsiveness is not luxury but a prerequisite. 

Other than that: individual blog post pages - comments, footer, and other stuff are very well made.

According to a prominent speed test tool Pingdom, the site's load time is on average 1.11s (which is not really excellent but average). The template has no dependencies and doesn't request any additional external libraries.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

It is 2016 and Payoneer still does not offer two-step authentication

In summary, this blog post is about Payoneer not offering two-step authentication for its members despite numerous requests.

As of March 17, 2016, Payoneer, a world-renowned company with more than 3 million customers, does not offer a two-step authentication protection for its members.

Founded in 2005, Payoneer provides financial services and online money transfer services worldwide. It is available in more than 200 countries and supports more than 150 currencies. 

Payoneer's concept is simple: you get an international credit card from Payoneer that allows you to get paid from any valuable american company. You will be able to use the credit card literally on any ATM machine anywhere in the world and withdraw the funds. You don't have to deal with banks, their headaches and contracts.

Payoneer had extreme success in the past and recently posted those stats on their website:

After massive success and being 10 years in business, the security department at Payoneer still doesn't get it: two-step authentication matters; all large and small tech giants include it such as: Apple, Amazon, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc...

Apparently, Payoneer is not aware that it is a company that handles financial accounts, not a social media accounts. Would thieves and hackers be interested to hack or hijack a simple social media account or a financial account that lets you gain access to a decent amount of cash? said

Here goes my first criticism for Payoneer, besides no 2 factor authentication being available, I find it unbelievable that a company processing payments will not allow me to use special characters in my password, only letters and numbers are allowed, this will greatly help malicious hackers trying to break into my account using a brute force attack.

What Payoneer doesn't understand is that is not difficult to get to know someone's password, whether be it: installing some spyware on the victim's machine, standing behind the victim while s/he types  the password, or any type security vulnerability in the service's website and database. In addition to that, Payoneer does not force members to add characters in their passwords.

The community has been asking for this feature since forever, for example:

4. November, 2015: Security at Payoneer

I have personally contacted Payoneer's customer support team and this is the response I have received from them:

Thank you for contacting us. We understand your concern. Unfortunately the service is not available at present. We are working hard to make this available in future.

From this blog, I send a wake-up call to the security department of Payonner- it is time to fall out of the coma and straighten-up the security department.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

University of Saint Joseph student dismissed because she "can kill your babies"

A Lebanese student used Instagram to post an image of her and her friend in an hospital, HDF (Hôtel-Dieu de France). Along with the picture, this caption was found:

Be careful b*tches cz We can kill your babies #OneDay.

The Lebanese audience did not like the expression and it went viral, Mawtoura, a satirical Lebanese Facebook page posted the image and captioned it with:

If garbage doesn't kill your babies, these two mawtouras will.

Apparently, this girl was a nursing major and by this caption she was warning other people to be careful because she has (or soon has) the power to take the life of their children.

Whether it was intended to be a joke or not, Lebanese people were not hesitant unveil her name and report her to the appropriate entity, which was in their university: University of Saint Joseph (USJ).

The french-speaking university later confirmed on its twitter account that the student was dismissed from the university and/or the HDF (Hôtel-Dieu de France); which is a hospital affiliated with the university.

 The tweet translates to:

Thank you @mhijazi for the tag. The girl was dismissed from the HDF.

Was the university decision too extreme?

Monday, September 14, 2015

Mia Khalifa's Instagram Account Hacked

Mia Khalifa, a Lebanese pornstar that I respect a lot, claimed that her Instagram account was hijacked or hacked by some members who posted Islamic content on her profile. By examining the evidence that was found online, it would be fair to say that her Instagram account got really hacked or hijacked. All being said, it would be worth mentioning that Mia Khalifa caused a lot of controversy in Lebanon, received death threats from ISIS and she was disowned completely by her family members.

On 14 September 2015, Mia Khalifa made this tweet to Instagram:
Apparently, Mia Khalifa's twitter account got hacked and its not a joke. Her username on Instagram was miakhalifa1, hackers changed it to miakhalifa_by_v.p_:

They've also linked her old username miakhalifa1 to another account:

One can easily understand her frustration, her account has 2.2 million followers, that's something; and she has the right for that account. Moreover, Instagram should act and give her back her Instagram account, regardless of Mia Khalifa's profession.

What is more disturbing is that the Islamic images/videos they have been posting, for example this one:
A photo posted by LoL (@miakhalifa_by_v.p_) on

It is good to note that those people may have not hacked Mia Khalifa's account, they might have just hijacked it. That means, they either guessed her password, or sent her some spyware to steal it. Facebook servers are extremely difficult to hack, though it is not impossible.

Maybe it is time that Instagram starts supporting or enforcing two-step authentication for its users. All in all, Mia Khalifa is a victim and Instagram should act.


Friday, September 4, 2015

Remove duplicate lines from a file using python

In case you have a file "input.txt" with duplicate lines and you would like to remove duplicate lines from it, and have the result put in "output.txt" all you have to do is execute
this python script, be careful and use the same indentation (space):

lines_seen = set() # holds lines already seen
outfile = open("out.txt", "w")
for line in open("input.txt", "r"):
    if line not in lines_seen: # not a duplicate

This will execute in less than a 1 second, no matter how big is the file. Have a nice day.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015, the multi-million dollars lyrics empire

If you're a fan of music, and a 90-something kid, then you must have stumbled upon a lyrics website, that is extremely simple. What does is pretty simple, put all pop lyrics on its site, its motto is: 

We have a large, legal, every day growing universe of lyrics where stars of all genres and ages shine.

The average 9-5 Joe thinks that this is a normal lyrics website that makes 0 money and there is no effort is maintaining, and ruling the site; just some stupid site with lyrics posted by members; that's far from being true.

AZLyrics, the top website for providing lyrics, is distinguished in:
  • Its SEO, the lyrics usually rank the first on Google search results, has a page-rank of 6 on Google.
  • Its simplicity, simple A-Z search, no complex or annoying layout, unlike (metro-lyrics, rap-genius).
  • Its accuracy, it has ordinary people submitting corrections for free, you'll rarely find wrong lyrics.
  • Its speed, it adds new lyrics everyday.
  • Its history,  AZ existed since 2000, and as of 2015, its 15 years old!
And beside its simplicity, has one hell of an Alexa Rank:

AZLyrics was very kind to publish its statistics:

As you see, AZLyrics receives 190,000,000 million unique monthly visitors and 280,000,000 monthly page views (though I doubt this is less 1,000,000,000) but anyway, the site makes money through many advertising platforms including:
  • Adsense (Known for being the best advertisement platform on existence).

  • Amazon (Advertisements for products only).

  • TribalFusion (Known for malware, spam, fake products, money scamming)

  • ClickFuse (Music, related)

  • Advertisement for

Using my calculation and experience, I'd guess that azlyrics makes an income between 1 million dollars and 10 million dollars monthly.

Besides all that, the team of owns and operates the following websites (Updated on 1 September 2015):
  1. AZLYRICS.COM - Pop Music Lyrics
  2. AZVIDEOS.COM - Pop Videos Embedding from YouToube
  3. DARKLYRICS.COM - Heavy Metal Music Lyrics
  4. URBANLYRICS.COM - Hip Hop R&B Music Lyrics
  5. COWBOYLYRICS.COM - Country Lyrics
  6. OLDIELYRICS.COM - Old Music Lyrics
  7. PLYRICS.COM - Punk Music Lyrics
Their site AZLYRICS.COM is hosted by LeaseWeb as of September 1, 2015:


Monday, August 31, 2015

What constitutes an identity? A comprehensive synthesis

People are more than just government documents with statistical information; they are humans who have had their own turbulent childhoods, heritages, culture shocks, life milestones, and relationships. All of these factors lead to the creation of a person's unique identity; one that is dictated not by what the seal of his passport is but by how has lived. One's identity affects how he behaves with other people and reciprocally how others behave with him. Human history of full examples of conflicts and fights because of identity clashes. These clashes could be as minor as a politically incorrect joke on a YouTube video to large-scale genocides perpetrated by colonizers against "savages". These clashes come from a person not fully understanding people who ascribe to different identities; a situation that history proves can be a deadly incentive to persecution and intolerance. Abstracting from this, if a person consciously knows who he is, he will predict and be socially aware of how others will evaluate him based on their preconceptions of what his identity is. With an identity forged from his languages, cultures, and experiences and manifested in his sense of belonging, he understands not only how other people stereotypically judge him, but also likewise how he judges himself, judges others, and connects to others.

Various social commentators, journalists, and thinkers have touched upon the idea of how one's identity is formed and reflected in his and other people’s awareness of his social image. In his 2007 article "My First Passport", Orhan Pamuk gives the reader a glimpse of his early childhood and young adulthood spent in Switzerland and Turkey where he experienced firsthand how identities are formed, clashed, and judged. He claims that a person's identity is formed only from his experiences, wherever these experiences come from. Regardless of how you identity yourself, Orhan argues that other people will try to pinpoint what they think your identity is and judge you based on that. Ultimately, your true identity stays and grows with you. Amin Maalouf follows the same train of thought in "Deadly Identities" (1998) but takes it to a more drastic level. He explores the persecution and marginalization that follows from these identity clashes and identity pinpointing. He claims that one's identity could be formed from multiple cultural resources and experiences, and that people often try to oversimplify other people's identity by reducing it to one's national or ethnic background. But, such actions could lead to intolerance, judgment, prejudices, and xenophobia. This alarming claim is realized in both Mona Kareem's "Why do you hate Khalijis" (2012) and Ghinwa Yateem's "Lebanese women are suffering from sexual stereotypes" (2004). In the former, Kareem's discusses how many non-Gulf Arabs have developed stereotypes of Gulf Arabs (Khalijis) based on neo-colonial attitudes. She claims that non-Gulf Arabs have reduced Khaliji Arabs to these preconceptions and blackened their image, ignoring their centuries-old Bedouin culture and the role they have played in helping the Arab World. Similarly, Yateem argues that this judgmental mentality has likewise been directly from the Gulf (and other Arab countries) to Lebanese Arab women. She claims that Lebanese women have been judged as sexually promiscuous, shallow, and vain by other Arab cultures, all the while ignoring the diversity in the lives and accomplishments of Lebanese women. In response to these stereotypes, many people have taken up a call-to-action and actively fought against stereotyping and prejudice, such as the blogger Faisal Abbas who actively posts on online media in order to counter widespread Arab stereotypes (LAU, 2009). All these writers illustrate the ways that individual identities can be formed and how other people oversimplify them to a great extent.

Language is man’s original mode of communication, our innate method of sharing information with others. It thus forms one of the crucial ingredients in the creation of one’s identity. As explored in depth by Maalouf (1998), language can either be an open channel into the further development of a richer and more complicated identity, or it can be a preserver of a person’s original identity by preventing the “intrusion” of other identity-creating ingredients. Maalouf explores the former function of language in “Deadly Identities” where he provides biographical information on how he came to develop a Franco-Lebanese identity. Both the Lebanese and French facets of his one singular identity were nurtured not just by the Mediterranean and European cuisines that he grew up on, but on his exposure to great works in literature through both Arabic and French. It is through his fluency in his own native language that Amin Maalouf was able to access his ancestral folktales and strengthen his Lebanese roots. Likewise, it was through his fluency in French that he was able to penetrate into European literary culture and become a productive writer and sharer of ideas. Both Lebanon and France are a part of his identity because of how language was a channel for him to access and integrate both societies. In contrast to this identity-expansion aspect of language, language can also deter further modifications to one’s identity by fossilizing one’s affiliations and his ease of penetrating into foreign social groups. This is illustrated in the biographical account of Orhan Pamuk (2007), who as a child was not able to integrate into the Francophone Swiss school, culture, and society because of his inability to speak the language. Instead, his Turkish identity was preserved and he had to return to Istanbul to continue his education. Ironically, it was only through reading non-Turkish works in Turkish that Pamuk was able to understand these foreign societies. Furthermore, it was only in Turkish that Pamuk was able to express and refine his identity through his multiple publications.  Both these identity-expansion and identity-preservation functions of language are vividly experienced by any Lebanese citizen who on average is taught two or three languages, each of which bringing with its own cultural baggage and expression. Some find it easy to attain high fluency in these languages, and thus they find themselves cradling Middle Eastern, French, and American ties in their own identity. But others find it difficult to do so. Instead, they (subconsciously) choose to dedicate their time to only one of these language-society pairs and they mold their personalities on only this pair to the exclusion of the others. But regardless of which mode taken, language is a clear constructor of a person’s identity through it being a channel of information transfer and sense of belonging.

Expressed through language, culture likewise plays a role in identity formation. Culture is an umbrella term for the various beliefs and practices that a person grows up around. It is this under this umbrella though those identities are created and influenced. In the case of beliefs for example, by being exposed to a culture that advocates restricted interaction between the two sexes, a person may grow to subconsciously believe that gender segregation is proper and he will act based on that belief. As discussed by Kareem (2012), this is the case of some Gulf Arabs who are implicitly and explicitly told how to a proper man or woman behaves in public and private. Of course, not all Gulf Arabs, raised around the same culture, ascribe to the same attitudes and any such overgeneralization is stereotypical. But a significant number of them do. And for these specific individuals, it is because of Gulf culture. In contrast, exposure to a culture with more lax attitudes on gender interaction could create a person who believes in that same attitude and act accordingly. Gender integration is common in Lebanon as shown by the diversity of how Lebanese women live their lives (Yateem, 2004). Some feel comfortable with their sexuality, while others are more reserved. Some achieve great feats in their professional careers alongside men – May Chidiac comes to mind – while others prefer to live simpler lives outside of the work force. It is through these women’s exposure to a Lebanese culture of gender integration and feminist ideals that they choose for themselves how to live and how to see themselves. Furthermore, in terms of cultural practices and identity, when a person is continuously exposed to the culture of some social group in the form of its arts, literature, and cuisine, his psychological ties to that social group will be strengthened. When a Beiruti who was raised at a prestigious Lycee goes on a vacation to Paris, he will feel a strong bond to the faces, sounds, and sights of the French society that he first experienced in his French-Lebanese school and that he now sees live. Likewise, whether this same person is walking down an alleyway in Cairo or on the corner of the Empire State building in NYC, the aroma of falafels coming from street vendors will remind him of his Lebanese culture and identity. All in all, it is through the exposure of cultural beliefs and practices that a person’s sense of self is created and grown.

Through language and within a cultural environment, a person experiences different aspects of life: education, relationships, struggles, losses, achievements, and victories. It is ultimately his experiences that are the bulk of his identity and selfhood. For Orhan Pamuk (2007), it was his inadequacies in French and the sense of isolation he felt in Switzerland that nurtured his introverted tendencies. It was his later return to Turkey and personal readings that were the seeds for his lifelong literary career. The idea that it is your life that defines your identity is expanded in Maalouf (1998). For him, it was his simple childhood in a Lebanese village and his academic and literary career in France that created his identity. Who a person becomes is the sum product of what he has done in life and what has been done to him. Every Lebanese individual will have a unique identity that grew with a trajectory based on what life experiences he has had. Whether he went finished the Lebanese baccalaureate, got married at a young age, lost his family in the war, or emigrated to the West after graduation, all of these different potential events will create who he his and will be.

Created through language, culture, and experiences, a person’s identity is manifested in his sense of belonging or where he senses home truly is. If a person identifies with some culture and society, then he will feel at home when with other people of similar – but not identical – identities. This home could be the place where a person grew up and felt cultural ties to, as was the case for Pamuk (2007). Despite his attempts at integrating into the Swiss culture and school, Pamuk was not able to feel at home in Switzerland and had no choice but to return to his true place of belonging, Turkey. But for other people, home could include multiple places where a person spent many years of his life and much of his efforts into, as was the case for Maalouf (1998). Maalouf experienced multiple cultures and homes in his life and was able to integrate multiple affinities and ties into his identity. He was at ease in both Middle Eastern and French societies and equally felt at home at both places. The fact that he could so was a reflection of the complicated nature of his identity, one that had incorporated both his Arab and French experiences and cultures. Similarly for the average Lebanese citizen, the languages and people he is raised around and integrates into his identity will be manifested in his sense of belonging. Whether he is located in a Lebanese suburb in Michigan, a pan-Arab ghetto in Paris, or a Francophone city in West Africa, he will feel that he belongs to that area and its people as long as he has a shared identity with them.

It is clear that people’s identities are formed based on the input of language, culture, and experience and the output of their sense of belonging. However, many people falsely believe that all of these factors pale in comparison to the person’s nationalistic or ethnic origin. That is, regardless of how the he has lived in his life, every person has a fundamental identity and sense of belonging that is based completely on where he comes from – his nation, sect, or ethnicity. Other factors like language, education, culture, human relationships, and experiences play only a small role. It is ultimately a person’s passport that is the determiner of his real identity. But, such an idea is false and dangerous. It is false because governmental documents are only that, documents! As exemplified by Pamuk (2007), his passport was only a document that erroneously detailed parts of his body and demographics, not a true representation of who he was and who he would become as a person. Although he had a European passport and was evaluated as a “member of the council of Europe”, his inner identity had no connection with Switzerland. In the Lebanese diaspora, there are many people who have a Lebanese passport and Lebanese DNA running through their blood, but they have little traces of Lebanese culture running through their blood. For example, the actress Salma Hayek has verified Lebanese ancestors and carries the Lebanese citizenship. Yet, she neither speaks the language, cooks the food, celebrates the holidays, nor has experienced a single milestone in her life in Lebanon. She was born and raised in Mexico and is a Mexican by identity in all its aspects.  On paper she is Lebanese, but she is not Lebanese on the inside regardless of the fanfare that the Lebanese showed her when she arrived in Lebanon this April (Westall, 2015).

Secondly, this argument is dangerous according to Maalouf (1998). The danger lies in how this oversimplification of a person’s identity can lead to marginalizing that individual, making him feel devalued, and spreading xenophobia. There are many people who have identities that are more complicated than where they happen to have been born and raised; they further face marginalization because of this. A case in point is the social position of migrant communities such as Algerians in France. These migrants have in reality one identity influenced from both the Arab and French worlds, but both worlds marginalize these people whenever they recognize the other part of their identity, i.e. they French reject the migrant when he acknowledges his Arab identity and the Arabs reject him when he acknowledges his French identity. For the French, he is treated hostilely as terrorist; and for the Arabs, he is a traitor to his homeland Even in the Lebanese context, there are many Lebanese, including Maalouf, who are raised around French culture, have complicated identities, and feel a sense of belonging to both the Arab World and the Francophonie. Their identities are bigger than their passports, but reducing their identities to their passport seal is a denial of who they really. This denial becomes an obstacle against healthy dialogue between French and Arab cultures and could lead to intolerance and xenophobia. Even in the small country of Lebanon, no two Lebanese individuals will have identical identities just because they share a Lebanese passport. Their different family backgrounds, neighborhoods, educations, relationships, and adventures will create two unique identities. A person’s identity cannot be encapsulated in some government document, but will be nurtured by multiple variables: language, culture, experiences, and belonging.

A person’s identity is unique because of the multiple ingredients in its constructions. However, people are naturally inclined to find patterns in the world, and that includes the human tendency to ignorantly overgeneralize people, to put them into narrow categories, to have stereotypical preconceptions of them, and thus reduce people’s unique identities into smaller boxes. These stereotypical overgeneralizations and ignorant prejudices are dangerously pervasive in Lebanese culture and towards the Lebanese people. As explained by Kareem (2012), there has been a surge of stereotypical preconceptions of Gulf Arabs or Khalijis by non-Gulf Arabs, including the Lebanese. Because of their countries’ economic boom, human rights record, and conservative sexual attitudes, Khalijis are judged as being greedy, exploitative, backwards, and sexually repressed people. The actions of the few – the menial labor employers and the sex tourists – have been the measure by which all Gulf Arabs are judged and lumped together. The intricacies of Bedouin culture and society are completely ignored and reduced into this single false image of the greedy oil baron who goes on sex trips to Beirut. These stereotypical tendencies also work in the opposite direction whereby Arabs, including Khalijis, misperceive Lebanese women as promiscuous, vain, and shallow (Yateem, 2004). Their evidence is just the actions of a minority of superficial Lebanese women and prostitutes. No attention is given to the full spectrum of Lebanese women – the lawyers, judges, housewives, journalists, and mothers who play a crucial role in Lebanese society and enjoy more freedoms than their Gulf counterparts. But regardless of the direction of stereotypes, both the judger and judged are mistreated and misevaluated. Their identities are reduced to simplistic and false descriptions, based on paltry evidence and ignorance.

Based on ignorance, stereotypes are a dangerous slippery slope that can lead to intolerance, loss of humanity, and homogeneity. First, by negatively overgeneralizing a population and the identities of its individuals, the value of that population’s history, culture, and world contributions are lost. Through the reduction of Khalijis to repressed oil barons, the centuries-old Bedouin culture is marked down as just a land of oil and not a land of hospitality, poetry, and tradition. Through the stereotyping of Khalijis as exploitative and spoiled, the contributions of the Gulf in the Arab revolutions and its place as a meeting point between multiple cultures is forgotten (Kareem, 2012). Time will tell if this erasure of Gulf contributions to the world will ever be brought back into public consciousness and if the Khaliji will regain the respect he once had. But secondly, on a much more serious scale, stereotyping will not just lead to a loss of humanity, i.e. the dehumanizing and forgetting of a culture and history of some people, but also to intolerance and the loss of lives. History is full of civilizations and peoples who were killed and eradicated because of extreme stereotyping and dehumanization. To cite just a few examples, the last 100 years has seen the mass deaths of Rwandans, Slavs, Palestinians, Jews, and Armenians because of how too many people believed in horrible stereotypes about them. How stereotyping can potentially lead to crimes against humanity is difficult to explain. But Maalouf provides a model in his hallmark “Deadly Identities” (1998). By oversimplifying a person’s identity and by ignoring the complexities that go into creating his multifaceted identity, stereotyping limits healthy human interaction. If a person who, like Maalouf, has a complicated identity influenced by multiple cultures and societies, then he can act as a bridge of dialogue between those societies. But by disrespecting such complicated identities, dialogue cannot happen even between societies that are geographically close to each other. The diversity in population identities will be reduced into one homogeneous pile whereby people with complicated identities or those who have identities associated with the ‘enemy’ will be marginalized and repressed. Conversely, by respecting people who have complicated identities, dialogue and peace is insured between the societies associated with these identities.

Although the problems posed by stereotypical thinking are clear, an effective antidote is not. However, one potential solution is to utilize the media in both actively and passively fighting stereotypical generalizations. To actively fight stereotypes is to explicitly address stereotypical thinking and judgments on different media platforms. For example, to counter rising stereotypes about Lebanese women, journalists could publish multiple articles, blog posts, and videos where they talk about these stereotypes and debunk them. This is illustrated in Yateem (2004) where she directs most of her efforts into detailing what stereotypes exist about Lebanese woman, showing the hypocrisy in the people who believe such stereotypes, and providing counter-arguments in the form of real-life diversity in Lebanese women. Her article is an active struggle against stereotypes because it directly challenges them with the intent of correcting or erasing them. The same can be said for the blogger Faisal Abbas (LAU, 2009) who has made an online journalism career for himself out of his blogging activism against Arab stereotypes. On the other hand, another effective subsolution to the stereotyping problem would be to passively fight it. Instead of having the media publish works where the writer or creator explicitly and deliberately condemns stereotyping, passive media would involve releasing documentaries or articles where the stereotypes are implicitly resisted and disproven. For example, a fear raised by Kareem (2012) in her discussion on Khaliji stereotypes is the fact such prejudicial thinking has erased the existence and value of Bedouin culture from the public consciousness of the Arab World. That is, the idea of the Khaliji has now become associated with the inhumane oil baron and not the noble Bedouin nomad. To relieve this situation, journalists could publish works where this image and culture is renewed. They could broadcast documentaries exploring Bedouin history, the multiculturalism of the Gulf, and military history on the role of the Gulf in the Arab revolutions. The same could be done to resolve the issue of stereotyping Lebanese women by getting the Lebanese media to no longer use the vain nymphomaniac Lebanese girl as a stock character. Instead, Arab media would create multidimensional Lebanese female characters modeled after real-life Lebanese women. These two steps are passive in the sense that they do not involve explicitly arguing with the prejudicial audience but they indirectly make the audience see how the stereotypes are inaccurate or misguided. By watching and understanding the history of the Gulf and the value of the contributions of its people, non-Gulf Arabs will be less inclined to believe their narrow-minded judgments of Khalijis as exploitative sex tourists. Likewise, by having the diversity of Lebanese women be displayed on television as it is in real life, other Arab people will no longer think that all Lebanese women are identical fickle fashionistas. By utilizing both the active and passive forms of media as described, the Arab World has a viable strategy to counter the spread of prejudicial and stereotypical thinking. The media is one of the most powerful social forces that exist in human society. Just as it has been able to spread stereotypes before, so can it resist and cure them.

Just as no two people share identical genetic code, no two people share the same identity. Every person is unique because they were to different dialects, different cultures (cuisines, ideologies, beliefs, practices, customs, arts, ), and had different ups and downs in their life. They know who they are in relation to other people by sensing if they belong to a certain land, area, or people. They could feel this belonging to multiple areas and peoples though because of the multifaceted nature of humanity and the human psyche. Their identity is just bigger than the where they happen to have come from – their government documents. This is illustrated in the lives of many Lebanese people who have ties to multiple cultures (Middle Eastern, French, or American) and who maintain these identities wherever they live, whether it’s somewhere in the Arab World, the Franchophonie, or the Anglosphere. However, out of ignorance, many people oversimplify different people’s identities into small stereotypical boxes. This action is dangerous because it can lead to a loss of human value and, much more seriously, to the loss of human lives as illustrated with past genocides and contemporary inter-Arab discrimination. Respect must be given to the diversity of human identities, or else the consequences may be undoable.

Lebanese American University. (2009, July 13). Award-winning LAU grad uses blogs to break Western stereotypes of Arabs. Retrieved from

Kareem, M. (2012, August 29). Why do you hate Khalijis? Al-Akhbar. Retrieved from

Maalouf, A. (1998). Les identités meurtrières [Deadly Identities]. Grasset.

Pamuk, O. (2007, April 16). My first passport: What does it mean to belong to a country?. The New Yorker. Retrieved from

Westall, S. (2015, April 27). Salma Hayek pays tribute to Lebanese roots with film of ‘The Prophet’. In Reuters. Retrived from

Yateem, G. (2004, April 21). Lebanese women suffering from sexual stereotypes. The Daily Star. Retrieved from

This synthesis can be found on and can be reproduced elsewhere without permission as long as this message is kept. © 2015 George Chalhoub.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Critique of Maya Mikdashi's Sexual Violence Is A Crime, Sometimes

Even though the year is only 2015, the Arab World has had a very energetic decade thus far with many legal, political, and social changes. Whereas in most of the Arab World, these changes revolved around the Arab Spring, the Lebanese changes were much more scattered. One of these significant events was the 2012 controversy over whether or not marital rape should be criminalized. Maya Mikdashi’s online article “Sexual Violence is a Crime, Sometimes” was released around that time. Its intentions were twofold. One was to discuss the legal history of marital rape in Lebanon and why marital rape was legally protected. The other was to encourage people to actively fight for criminalizing marital rape by taking part in the contemporary protests. However, Mikdashi presents an unclear, fallacious, and weakly structured explanation of the former, and her persuasion for the latter seems incomplete because it did not rely on enough facts and arguments.

Published on January 11th 2012, Maya Mikdashi’s online article is in a call-to-action and an incitement to readers to take a stance and attend an anti-marital rape protest that was going to be held later on January 14th. In her article, Mikdashi starts out by going through the then-recent history of marital rape legislation in major world countries. Sadly in many first world countries, marital rape has often been seen as legal or as a less serious form of rape until the last few decades. The bulk of the article goes into dissecting and explaining why marital rape was at the time legally protected in Lebanon and why it should be fought. Although many people quickly put the blame on the Lebanese religious authorities, Mikdashi argues that the religious institutions are only an organ of a much larger patriarchal society, not the main obstacle. It is this patriarchal society that creates legalized discrimination against women in multiple legal areas: housing, employment, marriage, divorce, nationality/citizenship, and so on. Mikdashi attacks this patriarchal institution as the source of these discriminatory practices. She later argues that public discussion of these taboo issues, specifically sexual assault, helps in fighting against it. She ends her article by calling on her readers to attend a protest on the 14th of January to fight for the criminalization of marital rape in Lebanon. 

Mikdashi’s treatment of marital rape laws is not very complicated because her main goal is to liven up readers to protest for criminalization, not to understand the history and complexities behind it. But it is this simplicity that makes her article feel unsubstantiated and unorganized. The information she provides was accurate at the time of publication and representative of the then-current state of the laws in Lebanon. But because the legal data she provides was from 2012, her main argument can be said to be outdated because of the legal changes that have occurred since then, especially the recent criminalization of marital rape (Shadi Shidrawi, personal communication, August 2015). The first thing that Mikdashi does is establish and define the topic at hand, that rape is when one person physically forces another into having sex. And, she encapsulates the entire issue of why she is specifically writing about marital rape: “In many countries, sexual consent is an implied provision of a marriage contract. The idea is that when two people get married, they are granted rights to each other's bodies”.

In terms of research, her article she mostly provides then-recent legal history on marital rape laws in the developed world and Lebanon, but through an excessive and slow logical flow. In some developed countries, such as the US, France, and Germany, marital rape has only recently been criminalized. But even in the first world, some countries like Japan and certain US states still don’t recognize marital rape as real or serious. In Lebanon, however, marital rape was (at the time of the article) legal and there was public action to criminalize it. However, there was a strong opposition against criminalization, with the most vocal opposition coming from religious authorities.

When it comes to explaining why there is such a controversy on marital laws in Lebanon and implicitly throughout the world, Mikdashi puts the blame mostly on sexist societies themselves and partly on specific institutions like Islam or religions in general. However, her argument that religions are partly to blame for the spread of marital rape is weak and prejudicial. It is inherently wrong because the major religions of the world, including Islam, are strictly against all forms of human torture and sexual violence (Shadi Shidrawi, personal communication, August 2015).

Following her weak argument against religion, Mikdashi spends a lot of her time talking about off-topic legal issues. Instead of talking more about the history or the legal and social subtleties of marital rape, she instead chooses to talk about other legalized forms of gender inequality that women face. These include unfair laws in areas such as banking, inheritance, marriage-divorce, marital rape, and the nationality law. This last law is about how Lebanese women do not have the right to pass on their citizenship to their foreign-born families, whereas Lebanese men are.  During this digression, she even uses profanity and emotionally loaded terms. Although there is overlap between Mikdashi’s goal to criminalize marital rape and between the general legalized discriminations that women face, Mikdashi doesn’t present a strong link between these issues to merit the time she spends on discussing them. If anything, this lengthy digression is a red herring whereby it seems that Mikdashi is trying to divert her audience to tangential issues so that we don’t see the holes in her logic. Ultimately, Mikdashi provides a very compact description of the social forces that go with marital rape laws in Lebanon, but her compactness comes at the price of a complete and understandable explanation. She goes into off-topic issues and uses profanity and emotions in her presentation of what is supposed to be up-to-date, objective, and professionally delivered data.

Besides explaining the legal history of the reasons for marital rape criminalization, Mikdashi spends a great deal of time discussing why her Lebanese readers should actively fight for the criminalization and why the mere act of discussing is part of the fight. The goal of this is to encourage readers to take part in civil activism and the upcoming protests on this issue. This is the more persuasive part of the article and this is where the writer gets more personal by describing her own emotional reactions to sexism and rape in Lebanon. When it comes to public discussions on rape, Mikdashi argues that by doing so we are helping to end it. She acknowledges that most people (and especially women) do not publicly discuss this taboo subject because of how they are taught that such issues will anger men, will be washed over as “her fault”, will be explained away as a man’s minor error in judgment, or will simply be denied as ever happening. However, although she rightfully gets angered at why such things are happening, she doesn’t actually argue why they should not be happening. In order to persuade her readers to be against marital rape, she doesn’t provide objective facts or reasons but relies on using emotional and powerful ideas of female suffering in Lebanon. We can say that her persuasion thus relies more on pathos than on logos because most of what the writer does is make her audience feel that marital fight should be fought instead of making them think and objectively conclude that it should be fought.

Processing this article as a whole, it is clear that Mikdashi did not put enough time and effort into accurately collect and representing the necessary legal information on marital rape. She has a fast and simplistic explanation for the legal environment of marital laws in Lebanon, one littered with emotional bias, oversimplification, profanity, outdated laws, antireligious-ness, and logical fallacies. She does not take the time to provide carefully collected statistical data on the extent of marital rape, the Lebanese legal history on criminalization, or other relevant social factors about how violence against women is handled by the family, state, and police (Bramley, 2014). Neither does she try to portray a realistic image of Lebanese marital victims or how they are affected by these issues (Hawali, 2013). When it comes to her persuasive strategy, there is not a strong reliance on using logical argumentative strategies. In order to persuade her readers to call for the criminalization of marital rape, Mikdashi relies on showing how marital rape is often ignored in public discourse, how such silence is unethical, and how this silence and legal protection infuriate her. Instead of explaining more subtle issues like the long-term effects of marital rape or countering the arguments of the anti-criminalization camp, Mikdashi only gives her audience an emotional motivation to criminalize marital rape. By relying on pathos instead of logos, it is arguable that her persuasive article could strengthen a person’s pre-existing position against marital rape but it probably will not persuade someone from the opposition.

Rape is a serious human rights issue and is recognized as a crime against humanity alongside other such horrors like genocide, slavery, child soldiers, and human trafficking. In Lebanon, although women’s rights are relatively better compared to some other Arab countries, this does not mean that it is a feminist paradise. There are many legal obstacles against gender equality in this country, one of the most obvious being the legal status of marital rape at the time of Mikdashi’s article. However, marital rape was recently criminalized so this casts doubt on whether Mikdashi’s article is up-to-date and still relevant. But even so, she writes in a very weak way and does not provide enough data on why and how marital rape was legal and protected in Lebanon. Instead of focusing on the issue at hand, she spends her time going off-topic to issues related to Lebanese women’s legal rights in general, especially the controversy over the nationality law. In order to persuade her readers to protest for criminalization, Mikdashi does not offer strong enough arguments or explanations. Instead, she relies on making the reader “feel” that rape is bad, that we should talk about it, and shows her own disgust and anger towards it: “Even writing this, the hair on my the back of my neck is standing up, thinking of an archive of sexual violence that will never become "Lebanese history"” (Mikdashi, 2012, para. 3). As a persuasive strategy, her emphasis on emotions and not logical argumentation makes her article weak in that aspect. However, knowing that her article’s main goal is to encourage people to attend an upcoming protest for the criminalization, it is understandable as to why she doesn’t go in depth and provide stronger and more complicated arguments.

Bramley, E. V. (2014, April 9). Why does Lebanese bill on domestic violence fail to tackle marital rape? The Guardian. Retrieved from

Halawi, D. (2013, March 23). Activists urge Lebanon to make marital rape illegal. Reuters. Retrieved from

This critique was written originally in Mr. Shadi Shidrawi's Sophomore Rhetoric course at the Lebanese American University, Beirut, Lebanon.