Prominent Lebanese filmmaker and actress, Nadine Labaki, slams religion in Facebook post

I’m a huge fan of Nadine Labaki. Her films tackle serious sociopolitical/religious themes using Lebanon as a scenic backdrop, but the messages she conveys through film are universal. My personal favorite is Caramel, which explores gender roles and sexual taboos from the female perspective. A friend of mine had a small acting part in her 2011 film, Where Do We Go Now? This film scrutinizes sectarian conflict and exposes the powerful roles women play in mitigating human violence.

nadine labaki 2SOURCE

A Maronite Christian who rarely — if ever — publicly discusses her religious beliefs, Nadine Labaki is a master at gently jabbing at religious ideas and practices without offending anyone. One of my favorite subtle attacks at religion involves a scene in Caramel where a young Muslim woman casually walks into a doctor’s office to have her hymen repaired so her fiancé won’t know she’s not a virgin. So it was all but surprising when Labaki posted the following image and statement to Facebook yesterday:

labaki drawing

I am sorry!

I am sorry ! I quit ! I don’t want to be here ! I don’t belong in your world !
I don’t want to breathe, eat, play, learn, laugh or dream !
I don’t want to grow up to become like you ! You have failed me!
Mothers, are you sleeping at night?
Fathers, are you able to close your eyes?
Decision makers of the world, are you able to give orders and go on with your lives…remorseless?
Why give me life if you want to take it away so quickly?
Why give me life if you re going to watch me suffer, without lifting a finger !
My little body cannot handle your wars ! I m too frail to cope with hunger, deprivation, displacement, abuse, rape!
My innocent mind cannot comprehend your violence, your hatred, your perversions, your intolerance…. I m not built for this!
Is it all worth it?
I had dreams, I had projects! I wanted to be just like you, a teacher, an architect, a doctor, a painter… not a killer, not a hater, not a torturer, not a rapist !
Is this what you have understood from God’s teachings ? Is this your interpretation of “Be nice”?
God is not a warlord, he is not a landlord ! Jesus, Mohammad, Moses, Buddha, whatever prophet you believe in, whatever God party you belong to!
Damned be those wombs that carry us !
Damned be those seeds that give us life!
No we don’t want to be born in your chaos !
We don’t belong in your world !

What strikes me most about Labaki’s statement is she is not merely slamming Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and all other religions, she’s also pointing her finger straight at religious people for bastardizing the teachings of religion in order to fight wars. And she criticizes religious people for teaching their children dangerous religious ideas. She blames religious parents for turning their children into killers, haters, torturers, and rapists.

As an atheist I welcome her portrayal and critique of all religions and the people who use religion to bring harm to the world. I mentioned earlier I was “all but surprised” to see this comment. I’m not surprised because Lebanon is trapped between religious societies that only know how to use war to solve their problems. Intellectualism in Lebanon is huge, so it is especially frustrating when they read in the news each day the horrors caused by ISIS or the IDF or other religiously based political entities. 

Nadine Labaki does not belong to that world of religious hatred and war, and neither do I.


About Rayan Zehn

I'm a political scientist.
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6 Responses to Prominent Lebanese filmmaker and actress, Nadine Labaki, slams religion in Facebook post

  1. Pingback: Prominent Lebanese filmmaker and actress, Nadine Labaki, slams religion in Facebook post | Christians Anonymous

  2. Pingback: Prominent Lebanese filmmaker and actress, Nadine Labaki, slams religion in Facebook post

  3. Barry says:

    No one should belong to a world of hatred and war, be it religious or otherwise. However I think it is an oversimplification to claim the conflicts are purely religious. I will agree that the bastardisation of religious teachings is a major factor. The essential message of all major religions is for neighbours to live in harmony. It’s when people forget the spirit of the message and start making laws/rules and demanding everyone else also obey their rules/laws that conflict begins.

    In the case of the current conflict in Gaza, if religion is taken out of the equation, I think there is enough hatred on both sides for alternative excuses to be found to continue to use violence as a means to an end. I’m firmly of the belief that what the IDF has done in Gaza is nothing short of crimes against humanity. They have also just created a new generation of Palestinian youth who will hate Israelis and their allies even more strongly than before. Some of that hate will be Moslem vs Jew (and Christianity), some will be Palestinian vs Israeli (and America or the West), some will be oppressed vs oppressor, some will be homeless vs housed. There will likely be many other reasons to perpetuate the hatred, and they will continue until the injustices are corrected.

    • Rayan Zehn says:

      I agree conflicts in areas known for sectarian divides are more than merely religious. But in Lebanon the blame falls squarely on religion.

      In 2012 I did some research at the American University of Beirut, where I found a correlation between religion and views on certain social/political issues. For example, the 33 day war was obviously the product of Israeli humiliation over Hamas gaining power to their south, and Hezbollah kidnapping Israeli soldiers to their north. Less known, but equally true, is the US were pressuring Israel prior to the kidnappings to attack Lebanon to kill Nasrallah (see Achcar and Warschawski, ‘The 33 Day War: Israel’s War on Hezbollah in Lebanon and its Consequences,’ 2007). None of these are explicitly religious. But in Lebanon the religious themes are glaring. Depending on your religious affiliation, you might or might not have supported the war, blamed the US, blamed the Shias/Sunnis/Jews.

      In the West we may see a complicated organic structure that makes it difficult to explain these wars. In Lebanon, they use parsimony and get straight to the point: ‘The Clash of Civilizations.’

  4. Wonderful site, thank You !!

  5. Benny says:

    Thanks for finally talking about >Prominent Lebanese filmmaker and actress, Nadine Labaki, slams religion in Facebook post | The Atheist Papers <Liked it!

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