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I'm a pretty upstanding citizen: I pay my rent on time, I help ladies with babies carry stuff up stairs, I even refrain from littering the already dirty streets of Beirut. In the US of America, I've never been in trouble for anything. (OK I got a speeding ticket once when I was 16 but that's it!)
That's why people find it quite a shocker when I reveal to them that in fact I, the small smiley addition to 2famous, was once thrown into a Lebanese jail.
It was the steamy summer of 2010. I was 21, bartending in Gemmayze, sleeping during the day, going out at night while starring in music videos like it was my second job. I was invited to a party in an abandoned courtyard of a mansion somewhere in Achrafieh. It was a sweet setup with a giant tree that people were swinging off of, tons of Indian food our friend Firas cooked, and a pleasant enjoyable crowd.
The Epic Garden Party
I chatted with different people all night, sitting in a chair while they took turns to come and spend some time with me. Candles lined the garden and a DJ mixed music. Apparently the neighbors didn't like the commotion. At all. The cops arrived three times throughout the night giving warnings to the party throwers who then lowered the music.
At 4 am the party was cleared out except for about ten of us left. Once more the cops came but this time they didn't leave so fast. The majority of the stragglers were Lebanese and one other foreigner and I remained. We stayed sitting in the garden while the Lebanese went out to negotiate.
But the negotiations took an unusually long time. At one point I saw all of them whip out their ID's and hand them to the police. Oh my god, that's serious, BUT at least I'm a foreigner la la la la la la la .
Then I heard the dreaded declaration: "Bring out the foreigners." Oh shit! They're onto us! We were summoned out of the garden and forced to give our IDs. Reluctantly, I gave my stupid Florida driver's license and they held onto it.
One kid was too sketched out by the situation so after a deeply passionate and kind of awkward makeout session with his girl companion, he slipped away into the night to wander the streets.
Everyone's IDs had been confiscated and now they were arresting us and bringing us to the police station. They didn't even have enough transportation for all of us so we had to drive ourselves --separated by sex. Three women and I piled into one of the party goers' SUVs and the rest of the men were squeezed into a Lebanese Police SUV. We sat anxiously glancing back at the men who were in the tighter grip of the authorities. In only five minutes we arrived and were once again separated into rooms: men and women. That turned out to be boring so we ladies just moved in with interrogators and guys.
Let Your Personality Shine While You're Doing Time
We sat around for hours as the rest of the night drifted away. My fellow foreigner, a German guy, was playing Soduko on the bench next to me. The drunk Lebanese DJ was bitching about getting arrested and kept saying "Fuck the police!" It was only once that I opened my mouth or expressed an emotion and it was to tell him to shut the fuck up and leave me alone because I didn't care about his complaints. Like seriously, how does that ever help, bitching to the police about the police? He was a little offended by my surprisingly quick and cold reaction, but these days we're friends and everything is great.
Some captives were joking with the police officers, while others were biting their nails in anxiety. Like I said, I was silent and calm, kind of bored, and totally sure that nothing would really happen to me. Plus, I found out later one woman in the group was a hot shot in the school system and another guy had some pretty high up connections in his family (something very powerful in Lebanon).
The policeman called everyone up one at a time and eventually he came to me: I walked up to him with the guy I was dating at the time. The officer asked me questions in Arabic and I was supposed to pretend I didn't speak it and use my man-friend as a translator.
The officer said "Where is your passport?" in Arabic.
My friend said to me "Your passport is at home, right?" in English.
"Yea, my passport is at my apartment."
Then the officer asked "Is there someone home to bring your passport?" in Arabic
Technically I did have a roommate but my friend looked at me with raised eyebrows and said "There's no one at your house who can bring your passport here, right?"
"No, no one is there to bring my passport." I replied.
And so he kept leading my answers with questions like these so I finished all my meaningless banter and sat back down unscathed.
And The Verdict Was...
After a few hours of detention we were told exactly what we were taken in for: Satan Worshipping! Everyone in the room laughed wildly and was in hysterics. They thought it was hilaaaaarious and started joking with the police officers who agreed we weren't Satan Worshippers but that the neighbors had been concerned with all the candles and scary music. Apparently the party was right outside some high-up police officer's house and he was totally pissed off at our shenanigans demanding we be taken in for...something.
And Satan worshipping it was. You see, Lebanon has been on a witch hunt for those bowing down to badass Satan since the police chief's son, who had long hair and listened to metal music, committed suicide....like over 10 years ago. Now Lebanon sums it up:
"The struggle dates back to 1997, when teenage metal fan Michel Jammal committed suicide. Following the incident, the government started a massive crackdown on rock music. A second wave of rock opposition surfaced in 2003 after a group of people were arrested for allegedly belonging to a devil worshipping cult and having sexual intercourse with a dead body."
Many incidents of kids and young adults arrested in Lebanon due to their dark dress and musical tastes pop up everywhere. It really is a crackdown on alternative lifestyles which is pretty archaic.
Back at the station they had nothing more to do with us so they let us go. As the sun continued to rise in the beautiful early summer hours, I walked back to my friend's house in silence with the feisty DJ. A tray of kanafe sat on the table for us sleepy Satanists and we devoured the sweet syrupy stuff with our ravenous evil selves.