Lebanese American cop files lawsuit, claims he was called ‘Beirut Bomber’

A Lebanese American police officer has filed a lawsuit against the San Jose, California Police Department alleging racial discrimination, reported NBC Bay Area.

Officer Nabil Haidar, a Lebanese American and Muslim officer, said his fellow officers called him “Bin Laden,” “Taliban” and “Beirut Bomber” in the days and years following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Haidar hired a California law firm to represent him in his lawsuit against the city of San Jose, the police department and police chief. He also named five other officers.

NBC Bay Area reported that the alleged harassment “escalated to a new height” after the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 to begin the Iraq War.

The lawsuit claimed that police officers allegedly said, “You’re not gonna blow up are you?” Haidar claims his fellow officers imitated his accent while saying, “I’ll kill you all.”

Haidar moved to the U.S. in 1988 and earned a bachelor's degree in criminology. (Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli and Brewer)
Haidar moved to the U.S. in 1988 and earned a bachelor’s degree in criminology. (Gwilliam, Ivary, Chiosso, Cavalli and Brewer)

Haidar’s attorney said he decided to pursue legal action after he was allegedly harassed by a police sergeant at a meeting recognizing veterans.

“Captain, you forgot to mention Nabil. He is an ISIS veteran,” the sergeant allegedly said. “He was with ISIS for two years.”

The San Jose-based Mercury News reported that the city had not yet received a copy of the complaint.

“However, based on the claim filed by Mr. Haidar with the State Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and our subsequent investigation, we have not seen a basis for liability against the City,” City Attorney Rick Doyle said.

Lebanon opens first ‘blind-friendly’ supermarket in the Middle East

Marqet, the first blind-friendly supermarket in the Middle East opened Sept. 27 on Koraytem Main Road in Beirut, as part of a project launched by Lebanese non-profit Red Oak, a press release said.

According to a statement on the Red Oak website, this supermarket initiative coincides with their other recent projects aimed at bringing blind and visually-impaired persons to Lebanese museums.

The Youth Association of the Blind collaborated with Red Oak to train Marqet employees on how to support blind and visually-impaired shoppers during a two-day workshop, the release added.

Red Oak said employees at Marqet have been taught to support blind customers, walk them through the aisles, orientate them, showcase or describe products and help as they check out.

Marquet is Lebanon's first 'blind-friendly' supermarket. (Facebook/Red Oak)
Marquet is Lebanon’s first ‘blind-friendly’ supermarket. (Facebook/Red Oak)

According to Marqet’s website, it’s a one-stop shop for meats, fresh fruits, vegetables and many favorite brands like: La Boulangere Bio, Oslo, Royal Gourmet, Gloria Jean’s Coffees, Qi juices, Cocoa & Co. and more.

“Smell the aromas of fresh bread baking in our bakery with its organic section, run your errands supported by our friendly staff, sip a cup of coffee and let our staff handle your order or call us from the comfort of your home and we will deliver,” the site said.

Marqet is open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. everyday — including Sundays, delivery is available with no minimum order requirement and customers can find free parking.

For more information, visit: marqetlb.com or redoaklb.org.

Former Lebanese president tweets, ‘Our hash is the best hash’

Former Lebanese President Michel Sleiman mocked Lebanon’s marijuana industry with a tweet, “Our hash is the best hash.”

Sleiman, who opposes the legalization of marijuana, said Lebanese citizens joked that Lebanese citizens should embrace the culture of marijuana.

“Wake up, Lebanese citizens. Accept the culture of hash. Our hash is the best hash,” he wrote on Twitter.

Lebanese government officials are exploring the potential economic value of legalizing marijuana for medical purposes.

RELATED: LAU to study ‘potential medical value’ of marijuana in Lebanon

Minister of Economy and Trade Raed Khoury said marijuana, which is illegal in Lebanon, could diversify the economy and open new markets.

“The quality (of cannabis) we have is one of the best in the world,” Khoury told Bloomberg News, adding that marijuana could become a one-billion-dollar industry.

The Lebanese American University is studying the potential economic value of marijuana in Lebanon. (File photo)
The Lebanese American University is studying the potential economic value of marijuana in Lebanon. (File photo)

Meanwhile, Sleiman joins a growing list of Lebanese officials opposing the marijuana industry. He said Lebanon should look into other industries to grow its economy.

“Lebanon, a country which exported the alphabets, cannot find solutions for its economy other than exporting hash,” Sleiman questioned.

VIDEO: Irish soldier stationed in Lebanon flies home to surprise daughter

An Irish soldier stationed in Lebanon returned home to Ireland to surprise his 8-year-old daughter. The special reunion was captured on cell phone video and posted to Facebook.

Daniel Downey is a member of the Irish Army based in Lebanon. His 8-year-old daughter Danni had not seen her father for several months, reported The Independent.

Downey interrupted his daughter’s dance class for a reunion to remember.

WATCH: Irish soldier stationed in Lebanon flies home to surprise daughter:

Danni’s aunt said the family spent more than four months planning the special reunion, The Indepedent added.

Vice Admiral Mark Mellett visits members of the Irish Army stationed in Lebanon. (Irish Defence Forces)
Vice Admiral Mark Mellett visits members of the Irish Army stationed in Lebanon. (Irish Defence Forces)

According to the Irish Army, more than 300 Irish personnel are currently serving the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon.

“The UNIFIL mission ‘Monitor, Support and Assist’ involves extensive mobile patrolling throughout the Irish area of operations, including ground-holding, monitoring the Blue Line and humanitarian operations,” their website said.

FBI director meets with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun

FBI Director Christopher Wray and several U.S. officials visited with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun at the country’s presidential palace in Baabda.

In a statement, Aoun said Lebanon was thankful for U.S. support to the Lebanese Armed Forces. He said Wray expressed his support to the Lebanese army for helping to fight militant groups across the country.

“Wray visited Lebanon to reaffirm the U.S. government’s commitment to the Lebanese-American partnership,” Aoun said in a statement released by the state-run Lebanese National News Agency. “They discussed issues relating to the close law enforcement and security cooperation between the United States and Lebanon.”

FBI Director Christopher Wray visited with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda. (Lebanese National News Agency)
FBI Director Christopher Wray visited with Lebanon’s President Michel Aoun at the presidential palace in Baabda. (Lebanese National News Agency)

The meeting was attended by U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard, and representatives from the offices of Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

“Lebanon is a key partner on law enforcement, including the fight against terrorism and the preservation of cultural heritage through preventing antiquities trafficking,” Aoun added. “Director Wray’s visit highlights the importance that the United States places on its relationship with Lebanon, and our continued commitment to the security of both the United States and Lebanon.”

The U.S. has provided more than $1 billion in military assistance to Lebanon since 2006, according to the Associated Press.

Christopher Wray formally replaced former FBI head James Comey in September 2017.

WATCH: FBI Director Christopher Wray meets with President Michel Aoun in Lebanon:

Meet Saudi Arabia’s first female anchor: A graduate from Lebanon

A Lebanese American University graduate made history as the first female news anchor on a main news program in Saudi Arabia, reported The Daily Mail.

Weam Al Dakheel recently became co-anchor of Al Saudiya’s 9.30 p.m. bulletin, the main news program on Saudi Arabia’s state-run television network. She will work anchor alongside Saudi journalist Omar al-Nashwan.

Weam Al-Dakheel is Saudi Arabia's first female news anchor. (Twitter/Saudi TV)
Weam Al-Dakheel is Saudi Arabia’s first female news anchor. (Twitter/Saudi TV)

Al Dakheel graduated from the Lebanese American University, according to her Facebook page. She was previously a reporter for CNBC Arabia and an anchor for Al-Arab News Channel in Bahrain.

The journalist set a milestone in the conservative country, known for its tight restrictions on women. Saudi Arabia only recently lifted its widely criticized ban on female drivers.

Following Al Dakheel’s first broadcast, many Twitter users expressed their support for the promising future of female journalists in Saudi Arabia.

“This is big from Saudi Arabia,” wrote one Twitter user. “(She is) confident, focused (and) beautiful.”

WATCH: Weam Al Dakheel anchors the main 9:30 p.m. news broadcast in Saudi Arabia:

Report: Beirut airport serves over 1 million passengers in August

The Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport served 1,159,815 passengers in August, a 9 percent increase, according to Beirut-based newspaper The Daily Star.

Since the beginning of the year, the airport served a total of 6,002,040 passengers, up from the 5,535,725 passengers last year, the report added.

Lebanon’s only operational airport has been experiencing overcrowding at its terminals, and flight delays as a result of a system failure earlier this month.

A source told The Daily Star expansion is a top priority due to the congestion and increased number of visitors.

RELATED: Beirut’s airport to receive simulation technology from New Zealand

In July, airport officials announced a deal to bring advanced simulation technology from New Zealand to Beirut's air traffic control tower. (Airways New Zealand)
In July, airport officials announced a deal to bring advanced simulation technology from New Zealand to Beirut’s air traffic control tower. (Airways New Zealand)

A $500 million expansion project is in the works to offer more space at the airport, according to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Airport officials expect to award a contract by June 2020.

Although the airport’s current capacity is 6 million, Lebanon passed 8,234,782 travelers through the airport last year, airport officials added.

AUB ranks in top 50 universities worldwide for employability

The American University of Beirut is among the top 50 universities worldwide for producing the most employable graduates, according to 2019 rankings released by education researcher Quacquarelli Symonds.

AUB was ranked 45 in the list of top 50 universities around the world for employability.

The top five universities include:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Stanford University
  • University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • Harvard University
  • The University of Sydney

The new ranking marks the third year in a row AUB is listed above every accredited university in the Arab region.

READ HERE: Full analysis of AUB’s employability ranking.

“AUB’s continued dominance in the QS ranking of graduate employability is evidence of AUB’s success in achieving its mission of producing outstanding graduates,” said Lokman Meho, director of AUB University Libraries.

Fadlo Khuri is president of the American University of Beirut. He assumed office in September 2015 and was officially inaugurated on January 25, 2016. (File photo)
Fadlo Khuri is president of the American University of Beirut. He assumed office in September 2015 and was officially inaugurated on January 25, 2016. (File photo)

RELATED: AUB sets world record for Lebanese flag made of 60,000 notebooks!

AUB was ranked 41 in 2018, and 81-90 in 2017.

No other Arab university ranked in the top 50. The King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals ranked 251-300, and the American University in Dubai and American University of Sharjah ranked 301-500.

The research measures the proportion of graduates in full-time or part-time employment within 12 months of graduation.

Brazil’s two main parties have presidential candidates of Lebanese descent

Two of Brazil’s main parties have nominated candidates of Lebanese descent for the country’s upcoming presidential election in October, according to an article by The National.

Fernando Haddad, former mayor of São Paulo, is running on one of the largest political movements in Latin America — the left leaning Workers’ Party.

Haddad was previously the running mate of presidential candidate Lula da Silva. He is widely expected to become a presidential nominee after Lula’s candidacy was denied by the Supreme Electoral Court due to his conviction for corruption crimes.

Fernando Haddad was Mayor of São Paulo, Brazil's largest city, from 2013 to 2017. (File photo)
Fernando Haddad was Mayor of São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, from 2013 to 2017. (File photo)

Geraldo Alckmin, chairman of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, is also a candidate for Brazil’s highest office. He previously served two non-consecutive terms as governor of São Paulo.

“Mr Alckmin, seen as a candidate for the business community in a country reeling from a crime epidemic and poverty, may have his work cut out but he is vying to replace Michel Temer, the incumbent and another politician of Lebanese heritage – his parents emigrated from the town of Btaaboura in northern Lebanon in 1925,” The National wrote.

Gerald Alckmin served as the Governor of São Paulo from 2001 to 2006. (File photo)
Gerald Alckmin served as the Governor of São Paulo from 2001 to 2006. (File photo)

Lebanese descendants have called Latin America home since the late 1800s. They immigrated to Latin countries in two waves, most prominently after the collapse of the Lebanese silk trade.

RELATED: Ancient relics of Saint Marina the Monk arrive in Lebanon

“Should any of them be successful, they would join a long list of other children of Lebanese emigrants who have made their mark on Latin American politics, joining the recently-elected president of Paraguay, Mario Abdo Beníte and Argentina’s First Lady Juliana Awada,” The National reported.

U.S. urges citizens to ‘reconsider travel’ to Lebanon due to security

The U.S. government is urging its citizens to “reconsider travel” to Lebanon due to the risk of crime and terrorism in the country, according to a renewed travel advisory.

A renewal was issued Sept. 4 by the U.S. Department of State.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leads the U.S. Department of State. (File photo)
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo leads the U.S. Department of State. (File photo)

READ THE FULL ADVISORY HERE:

Reconsider travel Lebanon due to crime,terrorism, and armed conflict.

Do not travel to:

  • the border with Syria due to terrorismandarmed conflict
  • the border with Israel due to the potential forarmed conflict
  • refugee settlements due to the potential forarmed conflict

U.S. citizens should reconsider or avoid travel to certain areas in Lebanon because of the threats of terrorism, armed clashes, kidnapping, and outbreaks of violence, especially near Lebanon’s borders with Syria and Israel. U.S. citizens living and working in Lebanon should be aware of the risks of remaining in the country and should carefully consider those risks.

U.S. citizens who choose to travel to Lebanon should be aware that consular officers from the U.S. Embassy are not always able to travel to assist them. The Department of State considers the threat to U.S. government personnel in Beirut sufficiently serious to require them to live and work under strict security restrictions. The internal security policies of the U.S. Embassy may be adjusted at any time and without advance notice.

Terrorist groups continue plotting possible attacks in Lebanon. The potential exists for death or injury in Lebanon because of the attacks and bombings perpetrated by terrorist groups. Terrorists may conduct attacks with little or no warning targeting tourist locations, transportation hubs, markets/shopping malls, and local government facilities.

The Lebanese government cannot guarantee the protection of U.S. citizens against sudden outbreaks of violence. Family, neighborhood, or sectarian disputes can escalate quickly and can lead to gunfire or other violence with no warning. Armed clashes have occurred along the Lebanese borders, in Beirut, and in refugee settlements. The Lebanese Armed Forces have been brought in to quell the violence in these situations.

Public demonstrations can occur with little warning and could become violent. You should avoid areas of demonstrations and exercise caution in the vicinity of any large gatherings. Protesters have blocked major roads to gain publicity for their causes, including the primary road to the U.S. Embassy, and the primary road between downtown Beirut and Rafiq Hariri International Airport. Access to the airport may be cut off if the security situation deteriorates.

Kidnapping, whether for ransom, political motives, or family disputes, has occurred in Lebanon. Suspects in kidnappings may have ties to terrorist or criminal organizations.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to Lebanon:

Border with Syria

Since August 2014, deadly terror attacks have occurred in border towns along Lebanon’s border with Syria, as have episodic clashes between the Lebanese Army and Syrian-based violent extremist groups. A 2017 Lebanese Army offensive expelled ISIS militants from territory along Lebanon’s border with Syria. The U.S. Embassy strongly urges U.S. citizens to avoid the Lebanese-Syrian border region. The U.S. Department of State also warns U.S. citizens of the risk of traveling on flights that fly over Syria, which include some flights to Beirut.

Border with Israel

There have been sporadic rocket attacks from southern Lebanon into Israel in connection with the violence between Israel and Hizballah: the last reported incident was in 2014. The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid this border area.

Refugee Settlements

The U.S. Embassy urges U.S. citizens to avoid travel to refugee settlements, where violence has resulted in shootings and explosions.