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Ya Kbirna… Face­book Cam­paign De­nounces the Coun­try’s Lead­ers


When the #youstink move­ment be­gan last Au­gust, Beirut-born Khaled Nasser, holder of a PH.D. in Fam­ily Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Coun­sel­ing and Lec­turer at AUB and LAU, joined pro­test­ers down­town. He car­ried the Le­banese flag, but held no other ban­ner. He heard peo­ple com­plain about poverty, the lack of dig­nity, the garbage cri­sis, the gov­ern­ment, po­lit­i­cal lead­ers, the traf­fic, un­em­ploy­ment, and many other things.

“I think this is what makes the move­ment strong,” he told me. “This va­ri­ety of de­mands com­ing from a va­ri­ety of peo­ple who are all fed-up.”

When Nasser de­cided to con­trib­ute, how­ever, he went af­ter a more spe­cific tar­get –for him the main fac­tor be­hind many of Le­banon’s ail­ments. Nasser cre­ated a Face­book cam­paign against the ide­ol­ogy of the zaim, or zaim-ism, as he called it.

Ger­man philoso­pher Karl Marx de­fines ide­ol­ogy as an idea pro­moted by the bour­geoisie. Pre­sented as the nor­mal state of af­fairs, it is in fact a be­lief sys­tem that sup­ports the rule of the bour­geoisie it­self. For Nasser, the cul­ture of the zaim in Le­banon is one such idea.

Nasser is a fam­ily com­mu­ni­ca­tion con­sul­tant and par­ent­ing is one of his spe­cial­ties. He was there­fore con­cerned that par­ents were teach­ing their chil­dren never to go against the zaim and to con­stantly seek his favours. The cam­paign he con­ceived, Ya Kbirna, ad­dressed that as­pect specif­i­cally.

“I de­cided to cre­ate a cam­paign where our chil­dren, or the fu­ture, are rep­re­sented as hus­band and wife, and where we ad­dress ev­ery one of the coun­try’s ma­jor za­ims,” Nasser said.

But as a com­mu­ni­ca­tion spe­cial­ist, Nasser knew that vi­su­als were key to the suc­cess of the cam­paign. He sought the help of Ramz Stu­dio, a Hamra-based bou­tique spe­cialised in so­cial com­mu­ni­ca­tion and brand iden­tity, among other things.

“We have worked on many so­cial is­sues but this one, un­like the usual cam­paigns we’ve done, rep­re­sents the voice of peo­ple at all lev­els,” Moukhtar Alayli, cre­ative di­rec­tor and co-founder, said. “This gives it great im­por­tance.”

A team of five peo­ple, in­clud­ing ac­tors, pho­tog­ra­pher, cos­tume de­signer and graphic de­signer, pro­duced to­gether seven dif­fer­ent posters.

Six of the posters, which were shared on Face­book, rep­re­sented Speaker Nabih Berri, MPS Saad Hariri, Walid Jum­blatt and Michel Aoun, and party lead­ers Samir Geagea and Amin Ge­mayal –in their re­spec­tive colours.

In a con­tro­ver­sial step, the yel­low poster, rep­re­sent­ing Hizbul­lah leader Hasan Nas­ral­lah, was in­ten­tion­ally left with­out a face. “We want our chil­dren to speak freely. We don't want them to have the fears we have,” the poster said.

The cam­paign was shared 851 times to date, mostly by Le­banese cit­i­zens, but the num­ber of views could not be de­ter­mined be­cause the images were posted on a pri­vate pro­file. Hun­dreds of com­ments ad­dressed the shared posters. “Ya Kbirna.. Le­banon’s rev­o­lu­tion,” one of them said.

When I men­tioned the com­ment to him, Nasser smiled. “Every­thing hap­pen­ing now is quite pos­i­tive but change comes very slowly,” he said. “We need to change our way of think­ing be­fore we ask our lead­ers to do so too.”

Our chil­dren are the coun­try's only hope.

Our chil­dren's fu­ture is in their hands alone.

We want our chil­dren to speak freely. We don't want them to have the fears we have.

We want our chil­dren to earn their for­tunes.

We do not want our chil­dren to in­herit a zaim.

Our chil­dren alone tip the bal­ance.

Our chil­dren are not your amu­ni­tion.

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