Dear Laila kindly provided a translation of my Al Akhbar article
The Cunning State
The scandal of rotten meat reminded the Lebanese of an issue they had forgotten: their food safety. The issue of vegetables and fruits polluted with deposits from poisonous pesticides has also receded with time.
According to press reports, it seems that the situation, as described by the minister of agriculture, is not a disaster, but it is serious. It is serious for two reasons: first, its repercussions, because it is directly connected to our general health. Second, because it reminds us of our rotten reality when it comes to citizens’ rights and the duties of the state, such as supervision of ‘cunning’ investors’ who ‘control the wheels of the economy.’
It seems, from the pictures we saw in the media, that these so called ‘warehouses’ do not meet the lowest standards even for a public toilet. But what the media lenses cannot convey is the stench of these places, full of rot. This stench now covers this whole country forcing us to inhale it with every breath we take.
Rotten meat is a small part of the decay rampant all around us. It seeps into every aspect of our daily lives. It has become so much part of the nature around us, that we do not notice it anymore.
It is the same putrid smell that comes out of government departments, in a country where the state uses all the guile it can muster against the weak without daring to even approach those who hold the reins of power.
There are so many examples of this rotten reality. Ask environmental activists about the case brought against a leader of one of the sects, who almost daily enchants us with sweet songs about the environment while he buries waste of unknown impact on his private land. Ask those who languish in Rumiyye prison, and other prisons which bring shame on Lebanon, waiting for years to be tried on a charge they may be innocent of.
Is it not corruption when private schools raise their fees as soon as they hear about the proposal to raise wages, so that all the gains made by the workers disappear into the pockets of the rich?
Indeed, we might get rid of this current ‘shipment’ of rotten meat, but its stench will linger on. We will smell it until the day we have a thorough ‘spring clean.’