Day 20~ February 20th~ Lebanon

veiled~ muslim girl in Tripoli

In a geographically small country like Lebanon, people of different religions live side by side. It is so difficult to explain how religions, tradition, cultural norms, rules, and social order organize themselves there. Within each religion are sects, groups, different belief systems, different dress codes and different tolerances.

Having been born to a christian family, the only veils I saw in my village were worn by older aunts and grandmothers who wore them in the church out of respect or from self imposed reverence. With some of our muslim neighbors, the veil was imposed on girls as they reached puberty and it was mandatory.

The veil has become a very hot global issue in the last decade and attached to it is the idea of freedom of choice or the lack of, feminism or living in the shadow of men, a religious statement or a political one and it goes on even to the courts of Europe that had to deal with the issue outside of the muslim world.

The veil originally was only worn by the wives of the prophet Mohammed, and was only much later introduced as a symbol of conformity to a strict religious belief.

veils are not work by muslim girls until puberty

 

Day 14~ February 14th~ Lebanon

silenced

I was often asked after leaving Lebanon for good: “if you love it so much, why did you leave it?”, “if it is that beautiful why aren’t you there?”

But when I remember what drove me out, it was not really the war, not the seeking of adventure, not my love for travel, no, it was something much simpler than that.

I could never be ‘me’ in my home country. It is a society that allows you to speak as long as what you say conforms to popular opinion. It lets you do as long as you do what is politically correct. What drove me out was my search for truth and my strong longing to be myself, to be true to who I am and to find out who I was. And who can do that except under the wings of freedom? How can you find yourself if you are imprisoned in dogma?

And still, years later, if you ask me where I wish to grow old, I would answer: ” Lebanon, where else?”