The Real Tragedy of What Happened with Joe Maalouf on Air this Week…
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You all heard about what happened Monday night, live on air, on Hawwa El Horiyye with Joe Maalouf. If you haven’t watched the episode, you can watch here (start at minute 40).

What Happened

Juneid is a 19-year-old young man who wants to get married to a 15-year-old girl called Outour. Let that sink in. An adult man, wants to marry an underage girl, in 2018, in Lebanon.

Details of What Really Happened

Apparently, the parents of Outour were ok with marrying off their underage daughter, because the would-be groom promise their daughter an apartment, bought them gold (that the mother on air complained was “Brazliain gold” even).

The two lovers’ families were fine with this horrendous deal, until they suddenly weren’t when the apartment part of the clause seemed to be improbable. The young girl’s family then proceeded to file a lawsuit against the young man, given that keeping a minor in your house that isn’t related to you is a crime (obviously).

This happened almost 2 weeks before the show, and for 12 days before the episode, there was an arrest warrant in his name. For some reason, no one arrested him even though his whereabouts were known in Tripoli.

The segment ran for more than 45 minutes, live on air. This was enough time so that the police in the Kesserwen area could mobilize to execute the arrest warrant in Juneid’s name, and that’s what happened. This was probably motivated because after 12 days of not acting, his appearance on TV was too much to stay idle about, and the authorities in the north asked the authorities in Kesserwen to execute the warrant issued.

The Chaos That Ensued

The image of armed police going into a TV studio to arrest someone is not something anyone likes to see, despite the fact MTV has a whole show dedicated to that, that showcases people that aren’t even proven guilty yet, being arrested, unlike Juneid who admitted several times on air that he knew he was breaking the law and was ready to go to jail for it.

Regardless, that scene was one that really bothered me and I wish the police didn’t do that on air and caused all that chaos. I also wish they weren’t allowed on the premises of the studio and instead executed the warrant before that time, given they had 12 days and anywhere other than the studio, live on air...

Regardless, I will not blame the ISF officers for doing their job, especially for a job this heinous.

Plot Twist

Juneid was released from custody the next day, after the investigators heard his testimony and the testimony of Outour. After that, the two families made peace, and they got back to their original plan of giving their blessing for this marriage… In other words, the sale of a young girl to an adult man in return for material things. This is where what we’ve come to, in Lebanon, in the year 2018 AD…

The Rage is Misguided

Everyone is going ape shit about Joe Maalouf, accusing him of getting the police himself. I know for a fact this is not true, and police officers have TVs just like the rest of us. However, this post isn’t about defending Joe, and I wish he didn’t invite Juneid on air, which I’m sure he didn’t expect to actually come given he had an arrest warrant in his name. Like all of us, Joe and his show is under the law, and no one can stop the cops from executing an arrest warrant.

However, the hate and shade being thrown at Joe isn’t what bothered me. What bothered me is that people are more outraged about the arrest, than the actual crime, which under Lebanon’s current laws, is still ok.

This is fucking outrageous. That a family will basically sell their own daughter for a rented apartment and some knock-off gold, is disgusting and infuriating. That this still happens, and not in some far away backwoods hell hole, but in Lebanon, the country you and me live in…

The Law Needs to Change. Now.

This is unacceptable. The fact that with the blessing of a parents, a young underage girl can be married off, is equivalent to our laws allowing people to sell their own little girls when they need financial support, or at least want to lessen the burden of raising a daughter.

This is unacceptable. Marrying under the age of 18 must be illegal, under any circumstance. No matter what religious or political leaders say, for whatever backwards and regressive reasons, it should be against the law. It’s enough we suffer the fact that our personal status laws are governed by archaic, misogynistic religious laws. Underage children are a red line. I don’t give a fuck about your beliefs or religion, kids are off-limits and the law must protect the most vulnerable of society, not regulate their outright sale.

Focus your anger towards the right place, and lets hope one of these lawmakers we have, or the new ones we will get in May, will do something to finally change this law.

The Real Tragedy of What Happened with Joe Maalouf on Air this Week… was originally published in Gino’s Blog on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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