CLAFA: An Objective Analysis of a Growing Lebanese Subculture
Freethought Lebanon (www.freethoughtlebanon.net) is an initiative launched on December 26th 2011 by CLAFA; (The Coalition of Lebanese Atheists Freethinkers and Agnostics); a project which was born on Dec. 26th, 2007, aiming to unite all Lebanese intellectuals and freethinkers under one and only one motto “freedom of thought”. Their logo, a cedar as nucleus of an atom symbolizes the geographical disposition they seek to operate in (Lebanon) while the swarm of electrons rotating around the cedar represents their goal; that is, empowering the Lebanese citizens with scientific knowledge and logic so to become people of better reason.
According to Lasswell’s theory of communication, the following community can only be properly assessed upon understanding the different aspects it functions upon. Primarily, to comprehend the community, an understanding of who the community is must be established. As discussed previously, the community itself is a collection of different individuals who required a manner to express their views, values, and knowledge so to give way for forming a better understanding of free-thought and science in Lebanon.
To know how all this came into being, one must go back four years into the past where a group of individuals sought to find a representative medium to which they can affiliate with and gain a higher value. Unfortunately, this was not an option, since no initiative of that sort was established in Lebanon for different reasons some of which include the lack of funds and the lack of an existent representation, which (automatically) lead to the realization of a bigger issue which was the dispersion of like-minded people.
The lack of such a vital niche in the Lebanese society, coupled with the society’s absentmindedness to the importance of science and its implications on the development of humanity, sent the founders to pose a very important question: Knowing all this, what happens next?
What happened next was four years of hard work and collaboration by starting CLAFA (The Coalition of Lebanese Atheists, Freethinkers, and Agnostics) as a fan page on Facebook which streamed continuous news related to science, technology, free-thought, and human rights issues seeking to unite Lebanese freethinkers, becoming the first online consortium for Lebanese Freethinkers in Lebanese history. Things eventually grew, and CLAFA became similar to a freethinking point of singularity attracting Lebanese rationalists from various parts of Lebanon!
Knowing all this, one has to ask, why did it all take place? The answer is quite simple and stems from two major causes. Initially, anybody seeks to affiliate him/herself with something that gives him/her an added value in his/her life. Freethinkers fail to find any added value in the overwhelmingly available social noise which ranges from local TV shows to the endless dogmatic values and beliefs they are faced with daily! Moreover, the lack of presence of an available medium in the region to express their worldviews and opinion drove them to create one to deliver their messages to like-minded people.
Throughout this article, we have managed to define who the communicators are, what content their message holds, the medium that has been created for the message to be sent, and who the receiving entity is. But the measurement of success is assessed with the outcome it generates. So to conclude, one must ask what effect does this action achieve? Frankly, no one can know, but for the potential that everybody witnessed in Al-Madina Theatre on December 26th 2011, one can only predict, that by properly satisfying the passions of the audience, one can harvest an amazing potential, through which definitely, a new medium in the region will be born.