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Sunday, July 18, 2010

Swastikas in Lebanon. Germany not amused.

My apologies for not mentioning this earlier. It was all over the Lebanese blogs and I simply missed it before.

Before the FIFA World Cup started in June 2010, a German flag with a swastika was seen on a house in Bteghrine, Lebanon (Germany prompted the Lebanese authorities to take these flags and swastika's down):
Unfotunately it's not just one incident.
Another Lebanese blogger shows us this picture of a guy wearing a shirt with a swastika on July 3rd:
and comments:
"While having dinner at Napoletana in ABC Dbayyeh, a guy walked in wearing the Swastika symbol on his tshirt. If i were the manager, i would have definitly kicked him out of the restaurant. Surprisingly, he turned out to be friends with the manager who sat with him for a short while.

Ignorance is indeed a virtue"
A day later a Lebanese (?) blogger wrote the following:
"One thing that really bothered me during the World Cup in 2006 was the occasional German flag with a swastika painted on it, mostly flown from passing cars. So you can imagine my disgust to see this banner flying in Bourj Hammoud, a predominantly Armenian Christian neighborhood east of Beirut today:"

(In German it reads: Germany (though misspelled) and "we live together, we fall together")

The blog Now Lebanon did some investigation and found out that the guy who hung the German flags with swastika-banners in the streets of Bourj Hammoud in Beirut is not an ignorant fool, but one sick dude:

Self-described “ferekh teis” (“stubborn bull”) Carlos Demien is celebrating Germany’s World Cup presence in a manner many around the world would find appalling. For the past few weeks, the 38 year-old Bourj Hammoud resident has displayed huge Nazi banners – swastikas and images of internationally-reviled Adolf Hitler included – across the Armenian district’s Zanco Street.

“I would not take [the banners] down if I was asked to,” said Demien, a Lebanese antiques dealer. “If anyone were to get upset, then for sure it is someone passing by. And, if this is the case, then he should just change his route.”

Demien insisted that he was not part of a neo-Nazi movement, but was simply praising what Hitler “had accomplished historically.” He claimed that the Nazi leader improved Germany’s standard of living, economics and agriculture. His reasoning took some sinister turns.

Demien lamented that Hitler was not allowed six more months in power. He also expressed no sympathies for the victims of the Holocaust and said he approved of the genocide. “Just look at the world and what is happening, and you would know why Hitler was right,” he said.
and..
“I make them myself,” said Demien of his signs. “I buy the material, design them and oversee their sewing.”
The German ambassador Birgitta Siefker-Eberle told The Daily Star that although the embassy didn't wish to cause a stir, she had been disturbed by the phenomenon:
“I find it very sad when this sort of thing happens,” the ambassador said. “Hitler is an extremely difficult legacy for Germany, and we have worked hard to atone for the crimes of the past – these flags simply negate that.”

Combining the current German flag with a swastika is also “historical nonsense,” she said, as the two have never coexisted. Although she put people’s fascination with Hitler largely down to ignorance, the ambassador stressed that the swastika was the symbol of a dictatorship for Germans, and one that reminded them of the darkest chapter in their history.
Update:
Zvi quotes part of the Daily Star in the comment section which I overlooked in the first place, but is important to mention:
"According to Nabil Dajani, a professor of media studies at the American University of Beirut, hostility to Israel also plays an important part in the endorsement of Nazi insignia.
“Most Arabs conceive the Israeli treatment of Palestinians as similar or worse than what the Jews faced in Nazi Germany,” he told The Daily Star.
“What the Germans feel today has nothing to do with how Arabs conceive of Germany. They still want to remember Germany as the country that [achieved revenge] for them from the Israelis,” despite the anachronism, he said.
I wonder if the German ambassador is aware of this.

Zvi also reveals some extra info on the Syrian-sponsored SSNP and wonders whether Demien is a member of this party rather than just a Nazi-obsessed nut-case:
"The SSNP has strong historical ties to the Nazis. Its anthem, for example, used to be Deutschland über Alles, its symbol is a reversed, swollen red swastika and its colors are black, white and red (reverse of the Nazi RWB). Those associated with the party tend to revere the Nazis."