April 01, 2006

Amn el-Aam

Sunset in Beirut; Friday, March 31st, 2006
Hana plays witch with the pieces of the 'Mens Erger Je Niet' game.

Today I have to pick up the housekeeper’s papers from the ‘Amn el-Aam’, or Security Services of Lebanon. This used to be an excruciating business, being send from one booth to another in very shabby ministries. Bureaucracy in the Middle East is used as a work provider for a massive number of the population, regardless of whether their services are needed or whether the service they provide is really necessary. So you have to get copies that are signed, stamped, double-stamped, signed again, copied again and signed again. One paper passes through 7 different people, all giving their approval. The higher up the chain of command you go, the larger the office, starting with 9 guys behind an iron counter and ending with one huge man in an empty office behind a massive wooden desk, a chair so massive (fake leather) the guy (always a guy) almost disappears in it, with some trinkets and other stuff on the desktop. No computer, mind you.
It seems however, that changes have finally set in, and the last time I was there, it was modern, clean, and not too busy. Besides, I have learned not to get aggravated over all this silly stuff, and have someone do it for me. I call them ‘fixers’ in English, I do not know the Arabic term. It comes from journalism, where you always have a fixer who organizes the official things for you; the paperwork to get to certain checkpoints, the appointments to press conferences etc. So the fixer goes and does all the legwork, and then for the last stage of the process (usually several weeks further and a 5cm pile thick paperwork) you go for the identification. It cost a little extra, but is well worth the aggravation, or lack of it.
So today we are in the last stage of it. I hope.
The Amn el-Aam’, or Security Services, also take care of the censoring. Which means that every book, video, CD and DVD that comes from outside, passes through their offices. We order a lot from Amazon, and hubbie has been asked several times to show up and explain himself as to why he is ordering certain material. Specifically when it has ‘Jewish’ contents. I remember he had to come for ‘Band of Brothers’, a 8 DVD epic on a group of American soldiers that are followed through the entire WWII. In DVD #7, it shows the company of soldiers walking past a concentration camp, with prisoners standing near the fence, staring at them. It doesn’t really show who the prisoners were. Just prisoners. So hubbie had to promise not to show this in public or use it for any type of publicity, as the episode contained material that showed ‘sympathy toward the Jewish cause’. That nobody picks up on this still surprises me. I understand that the Lebanese have a strong dislike for Israelis, but this is WWII stuff. Anyway, hubbie signed, all pissed off. “The things these people think of.”

And who can tell me how this trick works? http://www.digicc.com/fido/

4 comments:

Ysbrand said...

Mietje met de spinnevingers?

Ysbrand said...

Mietje met de spinnevingers?

Ysbrand said...

Mietje met de spinnevingers?

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