AUB Secular Club’s Naji Aoun has a message for all of us

We seculars don’t often get our voice heard, but when we do we sure know how to make a point. AUB Secular Club’s Naji Aoun was recently invited to talk on MTV’s Kelmetna Kelme to express what a lot of us already know all too well.

Here’s a rough translation. I’m no translator so feel free to correct whatever mistake you find. The video is in (Lebanese) Arabic and was originally aired on the 19th of October, 2013.

“Good evening,
[My name is] Naji Aoun from the AUB Secular Club. I’ve been living in Hamra for the past 4 years, I live in a rented apartment with 3 other men for 1,200$ per month – two bedrooms, a kitchen and a bathroom. We work all summer to be able to barely afford a month’s rent or two, and that’s besides the expensive university tuition that keeps on increasing every year because of inflation even though we all know that among the main causes of inflation are the expensive costs of private universities.

My situation is the same as that of all these young men and women. I want to finish my final academic year and travel to the first country that gives me a Visa. It’s not because we decided to leave the country, but because our politicians and rulers have sold us, [and] because we can’t handle the burden of expensive living anymore.

Mr Walid, if we go and buy textbook, we pay 10% taxes, whereas politician-backed traders take our ports and Zeytouna bay with barely any tax to create their luxury restaurants that most citizens of this country cannot afford to dine in. Traders who can take downtown to build luxury apartments that people like me have to work 50 years to be able to walk underneath them – metaphor meaning they’re too expensive – with the knowledge that half of them aren’t even for sale or are for sale to rich businessmen from I don’t know what country with Asian domestic workers, a situation still ongoing until today.

Sir, people tell us “what do you care about Beirut? go live in rural areas.” What do we find there besides poverty, crime and unemployment and families living day by day to afford paying for oil. Sir, if we both go down to Beirut’s markets and we see the prices, you’ll know that the cheapest thing in Beirut are the youth. For 1,500$, any foreign private company can buy us. My problem is with this political class that has sold us and sold the country, with this blocked and worn-out political class whose own self-interest outweighs by far the need for reform.

Just one last thing I’d like to add, Mr Walid. I don’t know with who I’m talking to. I’d have hoped that more time would be given to young people because viewers are watching them and not the political class.

Walid interrupts him and says: To be fair, we’re listening to everyone, the young voices and the replies [to the voices].

I don’t know what I can say about the unlawful congressmen who have renewed their own term. You can simply go on YouTube and watch 50-60 videos of them talking about the exact same thing, about this loophole that we have to close and that is increasing in size everyday (very literal translation).

Walid: Thank you for this rant

You can also find me on Twitter @JoeyAyoub

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