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.




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4 Comments

  1. SamerK

    All good.

    But why I have this feeling that the CLAFA’s official language is English??? The website, the conference….

    I mean, c’mon people, it’s CLAFA; (The Coalition of LEBANESE Atheists Freethinkers and Agnostics) –> Notice the LEBANESE.

    المستحسن تأسيس نسخة لهذا الموقع باللغة العربية وربما أيضًا بالفرنسية إذا تريدونهـا ان تنتشر في سائر المنطقة.

    هدفنا يجب أن يكون تثقيف المجتمع اللبناني والشعوب حولنا, وليس الانجليز أو الأمريكيين.

  2. Sami Ab.

    Dear Samer,

    The issue of whether the website should have both languages is being discussed, most probably we will be having a section for Arabic articles, guaranteed that we translate them all to English.

    Why English ?

    Firstly, our website, as you noticed, is science-oriented. The official language for scientists is English. As a physicist I cannot post/comment on a physics related article in Arabic. This is the case not only with life sciences, but also with social and formal sciences.

    Secondly, the “L” in CLAFA represents “Lebanese”, which is our nationality, and not the nationality of our target. Without any doubt, we are aiming to educate all Lebanese, as mentioned in the article, but the website shouldn’t be restricted to Lebanese people only, nor Arabs. This is our image in the entire world; each and every individual, wherever he/she lives, should be able to read, and comment on the articles. I don’t think that anyone who was able to open this website and log in, will have a problem understanding English articles, if this is the case with anyone, I don’t mind doing the translation myself, and I mean it.

    Sami

  3. SamerK

    Dear Sami,

    I’ve studied at school Physics, math, biology, chemistry all in French. And fiance, accounting and other social sciences in French too.

    and there are local schools that teach all those in Arabic.

    It’s not true that science can only be expressed in English.

  4. @ Samer, CLAFA is the coaltion for *Lebanese* atheists, freethinkers, and agnostics, and that’s why I think the articles should be written in English, specially since most of them are about science and scientific discoveries. I’m Lebanese, and I consider myself fairly proficient in Arabic. Nevertheless, I would have a hard time endeavoring to understanding any of the articles, were they written in Arabic, and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only Lebanese out there who would have to face a similar difficulty, since the overwelming majority of Lebanese people study science and mathematics in either French or English. Not to mention the fact that many CLAFA members belong to the Lebanese diaspora (unless I’m mistaken), and can speak/read no or very little Arabic.

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