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Myra Abdallah

July 10, 2015

We’re not racist, but she’s “black”

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Nafi after she was beaten up by the manager the first time (Myra Abdallah/NOW)
Nafi after she was beaten up by the manager the first time (Myra Abdallah/NOW)

Her face was bleeding; she was sitting on the stairs at the entrance of a retail outlet in the Dekwaneh area. She was innocently waiting for the police, having thought that the outlet’s manager had already called them after he severely beat her. She had blood all over her face and clothes, but she didn’t allow anyone to come near her to check her injuries or wipe the blood from her face. She wanted the police to see the situation she was left in after she fell victim to racist violence.


Nafi – who came to Lebanon from Abidjan, Ivory Coast, 5 years ago – was not a thief. She was only shopping for training clothes with her sister in a well-known retail outlet store like most people do; she was getting ready and excited about going to the gym the next day. She almost forgot that some people in Lebanon could only see her as a potential thief, just because she has dark skin. Yes, to some people, she is only a “black” woman.

 

 

Beaten up on the street


“It was last Sunday. I was trying to find affordable training clothes. Malls in Lebanon are expensive for people with the income I get paid,” said Nafi. “I went to this shop – where I am a regular customer – because it sells name brand items at a lower price. I went inside holding a bag from a different shop. Nobody stopped me at the door. After a few minutes, I needed to use the bathroom, so I went there. Only few minutes later, one of the customer service employees started banging hard on the bathroom’s door. I opened the door to find a few employees waiting for me and accusing me of theft. Though I was very angry, I let them check the bag I had on me. Obviously, they didn’t find any stolen objects. I made sure to let them know that this was an act of racism and had I been Lebanese or ‘white,’ they would not have suspected anything.”


Accusing them of racism angered the store’s employees, specifically the manager. Nafi and her sister decided to leave. The second they walked out the store, one of the employees followed them and requested to check their bags again. Again, to avoid any trouble, the sisters let the manager invade their privacy and go through their bags. Once again, nothing stolen was found.


“You are a bad racist person,” was the last thing Nafi said before she was beaten up by the man. She was later told that he was the manager, or the supervisor. “When he hit me the first time, I fell on the floor. He kept beating me till I was all blooded. The blood scared some people. They took me inside to wipe the blood. They told me they called the police, but apparently nobody did.”


When I got to the store, Nafi was waiting for the man who beat her – who had disappeared after the incident – to show up again. She wanted to memorize his face before leaving, and she refused to leave before the police arrived.

 


The second beating


Some employees just wanted her to leave. Others were trying to calmly convince her to leave, as she was being helped by some customers who also wanted to avoid a new incident, until one racist employee shouts at her in a very demeaning way: “Yalla, leave now or I will cut you in half,” followed by a stream of insults and accusing her of being a “black prostitute,” before trying to hit her again.


Nafi and her sister went crazy. This time, they decided to fight back and not let this woman lay her hands on Nafi. They tried to defend themselves and hit her back before all the other employees joined their colleague and attacked the two ladies who were already blooded enough.


(The video of the incident was not published out of respect for the customers who did not want their faces to show, including Nafi.)


Beaten up again, this time by a group of angry racist employees, the two victims decided to leave the store and wait for the police – who never showed up – outside.

 

 

Cleaning up the mess


Consequently, the manager needed to clean up his own mess; he needed to make sure that the two ladies did not report what happened. He began conducting his own investigation to know who they were, their names and where they live. Unsurprisingly, the cleaning lady at the shop – who is from Sri Lanka – should have known them because, of course, they are all “black.”


The Sri Lankan lady did not know them because, one, Sri Lanka is not the same as the Ivory Coast, and second, not all foreigners in Lebanon know each other and have secret meetings where they all gather to conspire against the “pure” Lebanese race. Despite this, they definitely threatened her many times to speak up or else they will “call the police to arrest her and investigate with her.”


Suspecting that one of the customers already called the police, the manager had to do something. He called the police and we overheard him saying: “They were drunk and on drugs. They tried to make a mess in the shop, we stopped them and things calmed down. The problem is solved.”


Of course, he came back to me trying to convince me not to write anything about the incident because they “are not racist and this did not happen because the ladies were black, but because they were rude.”


It’s true, a store manager in Lebanon is allowed: to beat up a woman on the street, accuse her of theft, let his employees call her a “prostitute,” insult her and beat her up again; to call the police to tell them that she was drunk and on drugs; to threaten people who did not help him silence her and try to prevent her from getting justice. However, this is still not considered an act of racism and discrimination.

Myra Abdallah tweets @myraabdallah

 

Editor's Note: The incident took place at Brands for Less. Our intention was not to protect the retail store. We have received inquiries from our readers about the store and hereby we are mentioning it. 

 

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Lebanonaintshit

We sheltered thousands of your people here in Africa and we still get this types of treatment from this proud for nothing pigs?, #2cantango starting from lagos to cape town!.

Lebanonaintshit

This is an outrage!!! i say lets deal with the criminal lebanese in Africa the same way they treat our people!. Starting from Lagos Nigeria. F Lebanon and whatever it stands for i hope isis locate them more often! #BRANDS FOR LESS are you guys seeing this barbaric white wannabe proud for nothing racist pig???!. This is going #viral promise.

Brands For Less

Dear Sir or Madam: This is to inform all concerned parties of what we have reached in our investigation.The company’s CEO flew in yesterday evening and conducted the investigation. After reviewing the security cameras and interviewing all the employees and witnesses available we reached the following conclusion. The Deputy Manager ‘s story was inconsistent and left us in doubt about his honesty. Due to this the Deputy Manager and the sales lady were fired officially after being suspended. All evidence will be handed over to the concerned legal authorities.With respect to showing evidence we cannot do more that this statement as we will be hampering the legal process and taking the law into our own hands. Any journalist knows how to verify these facts as part of their professional trade.We would like to assure every one that justice will be served and we will not rest until this matter is settled fairly for the aggrieved party. We are socially responsible and believe in giving back to the society that we came out of.We are against any form of racism, sexism, and religious prejudice . We think that these ailments are at the core of the problems of our country.

marymaria

To everyone who is protecting the people who were involved in this and claiming that they were there, aren't you all ashamed enough ? If all stories of abuse were heard like this one, we would hear a million each day. How many Lebanese do we have in Africa making money off the "blacks" ? Dont you understand that a different skin color doesn't make them inhuman ? When will this country learn to wake up and show some humanity. All you feel is hate and negativity! They are only here to work, in a country where they know no one; most came without knowing the language. Put yourself in there shoes before stepping up to behave and speak rubbish. I am a resident of Nigeria myself and have never been mistreated in any African country, I have been to 4. I would always prefer to be with "blacks" than to stand the insanity and stupidity of the Lebanese racists and bush people.

Bibi.2s

Dear Myra Abdallah and others, First of all i would like to iterate that i am in no way related to organization mentioned or to any of the employees related to this incident. I was personally buying some items with my gf before the whole incident broke out. And it happened it was exactly when we stepped outside of the store that the beating took place. And it was me, my gf and 2 other people only who saw what happened. What you mentioned in your narration is far, far from reality. While handling issues physically is the work of retarded individuals, it is worth noting that the girl "victim" attacked the employee first and snapped his head before he reacted with the back of his fist to push her away and it was then that she fell on the floor. After falling on the floor the guy walked away but she got up and followed him to continue the assault. The narration in your post is vey moving and all, but it has no correlation with what really happened and it's out of context. Whether the girl stole or not, it is the job of the employees to make sure that order is set and when the girls were in the store, they were asked to disclose the content of their bags but they did not accept. This is why the guy followed them to the street and kept asking right before she punched him and the so-called beating took place. After that the girls went back to the store and a scene broke out. By the time my gf and i had left the store before the "second beating" took place so we cannot really testify on that matter. But we can say wholeheartedly and wih a very clear conscious that there were no acts of discrimination or racism. There was only violence driven by actions and initiated by the lady herself. It is very unfair when you post an aricle like this and you give a completely false story while you weren't even there to see what happened. You are almost ruining this guy's life and public image because of allegations that are not substantiated. This is also an act of inhumanity by itse

Bobster

I was there and the girl is crazy. She attacked the guy after having made the scene in the store and he was defending himself. She was abnormal

nassarmaya86

There is NEVER any justification for beating up a woman, even "if" she was stealing from the store. The store manager is a backwards savage and the only place for someone like this is JAIL. Thank you Myra for covering this. I hope justice will be served for Nafi.

Brands For Less

Dear Sir / Madam, First we would like to clarify that our organisation is totally against any form of racism or religious prejudice . We firmly believe that human beings should be dealt with in accordance to their actions regardless of colour social status ,religion or sex or sexual preference. With respect to the subject at hand ,it was raised to the court authorities and will be dealt with in accordance to the Law. With respect to the employees involved they were suspended from work for the time being and we are awaiting the judgement of the authorities . Also it is good to mention that one of them was hospitalised and has been out of reach for the last couple of days. We would also like to add that if our employees are proven to have broken the law and the allegations are true then the harm that they have done to our reputation in beyond repair. And our company will prosecute them as well to the full extent of the law. Please rest assured that we will not stop until this issue is resolved . This allegation stands for everything we despise and we will do every thing necessary to see justice served for the aggrieved parties. We would like to highlight that our organisation has hundreds of employees across the region and that we employ a big mix of nationalities ,races and religions and if the allegations are true it would be a great injustice to label an organisation and its employees for the actions of a few individuals.

Hanibaal-Atheos

Typical of the "best" of the Lebanese media. Self-censorship, like they used to do under the Syrian occupation. They want to protect themselves and their jobs, and so they are "faux" liberals to whom fighting racism is a hobby, an accessory to brandish like a new broche in the elite salons where they gather, a cosmetic to wear so your friends think you're "totally cool", a cheap imitation of western standards... Just like that Now editorialist - Joumana something - who vanished, thank God, after telling us that she had a fight once with an exclusive resort owner because he wouldn't let her maid use the pool after she dropped the maid off with her one child (too much work raising one child, so she needs a maid) in her huge Range Rover which she obviously needs to maintain the image.... Fake, phony bigots. In their own lives, they rape every modern human standard, while preaching to everyone else the virtues of the opposite ... Do as I say, don't do as I do, should be their motto. Oh, and I am reminded of Laura Hamade (whose last name suggests "wastas" behind her job as a commentator) who can barely write English, but has enough "clout" to complain that her favorite stores sell fake brands at $30 when they should be selling the real thing (which she obviously can afford) for $300, thus making her shopping life a nightmare. My fellow Lebanese, be proud of your postwar elite. They are uppity snotty anglophones, not rancid passé francophones from the last century. .

ruth.abcarius

Yes Moura, you should have added the name of this uncivilized shopmanager. Persons like this should be shamed! And where correctly is this shop, for me to avoid it and tell all my friends never to enter this place. I am ashamed as a German in Lebanon, specially this discount shop deals with german made products.

Individual

Ah sorry bass why dont u post the names of the manager and employees? Or even post the video ? What r u afraid of ? Mad3oum min hizballah ? Wala amal ? Tefh 3ala heik balad , racism , domestic abuse, animal torture, and people following there mental deranged leader in the streets !! When will we join the 21 century ?

Midan

Myra, your ½ story just showed the worst in some Lebanese & afforded these bastards your protection but not identifying them; while all the comments posted show that there are good Lebabese who will not stand for injustices such as what happened to Nafi & her sister. Diluted reports such as yours ferments & nurtures this type of racism by your deliberate act of protection & that is as shameful!

kika

Je souhaite vraiment, du fond du coeur, que ce gérant ainsi que ces employé(e)s concerné(e)s soient victimes de racisme un jour et qu'ils se fassent battre de la même façon. Pourquoi? Parce qu'ils sont libanais et répugnants. J'ai honte de mes propres origines.

moura

you should seriously add the name of the manager . He should be publicly shamed as she was publicly assaulted and humiliated . we pretend to be civilized and educated yet we do this . What a shame to call him human . Animals behave better .

moura

you seriously should publish the store name and manager . they should be shamed publicly as she was assaulted publicly . We are double standard people . We excel outside Lebanon , do Charity and volunteer work and yet we behave like this in our own country . Shame on that racist manager . he is disgusting .

Booy

How can you publish the victim's name and photo but not the store and owner's name. You are putting the woman in more danger and protecting this horrible man and his business.

Booy

This is messed up. You need to publish the name of the store. These people shouldn't own a business.

Myra Abdallah

My intention was not to protect the store and its employees but to avoid an unorganized online reaction. The name of the shop is already shared with human rights organizations who are following up on the case. Further steps or actions will be shared soon.

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