We, at Anti-Racism Movement (ARM), see that the ongoing revolution against the corrupt regime intersects with our fight against racism, both social and systemic.
Racism and sectarianism are two sides of the same coin. In the same way that the ruling class politicizes and mobilizes sectarian identities to preserve itself, it also politicizes nationalist identities to 1) evade responsibility and accountability and 2) to prevent class solidarity across nationalities and sects, as such solidarity would threaten the viability of the regime.
To absolve itself from any responsibility for the economic crisis, the ruling class blamed refugees for the rising unemployment rate and dismal public services, and accused migrant workers of emptying the country’s dollar reserves by sending money abroad. In parallel, the regime held onto an economic system which depends, at its core, on an informal labor market and the exploitation of foreign labor in order to increase the profit margins of local businesses. Through the scapegoating of foreigners, the ruling class planned to evade accountability for its failure to enact economic policies that promote growth, job creation, and exports.
The state also turned migrant domestic workers into commodities that can be “imported” at high profit, through a kafala system which exploits migrant labor in exchange for extremely low wages. The state was thereby able to evade its responsibility of providing free or affordable public services (e.g. nurseries, nursing homes for the elderly, home healthcare services.), which then resulted in reinforcing the cultural and societal dependence on and conceptualization of migrant domestic workers as an essential “commodity.”
Then came the 17 October revolution and revealed a high level of political awareness as protestors emphasized that the only culprits for the economic crisis are the long history of corruption and an economic system that only serves the ruling class at the expense of everyone else. This revolution is a truly historic opportunity to build a just economic political system that would secure the basic needs and rights for everyone in Lebanon, including workers of all nationalities.
This revolution does not only constitute a fight against the injustice, greed, and corruption of the political class, it is also an expression of longing for a country with social justice for all. We cannot claim to have brought down the regime if we do not bring down its racist discourse, policies, and practices along with it.
Justice is indivisible and this is a revolution of all the oppressed against all oppressors!