General News of Tuesday, 7 March 2017
Ghanaian-Lebanese author and pilot, Fadi Daboussi, has said the worsening xenophobic rhetoric against Lebanese in Ghana in the wake of the Marwako saga is bad.
A Lebanese supervisor, Jihad Chaaban, 26, allegedly dipped the face of a Ghanaian kitchen staffer, Evelyn Boakye, in freshly blended paste of pepper at the eatery’s Abelenkpe branch in Accra for 10 minutes, an incident that has got Ghanaians expressing anger on social media amidst calls for a total boycott of the fast food joint.
Evelyn also claimed Mr Chaaban locked her up for close to six hours after the incident and threatened to sack anyone staffer that spoke of the incident.
The CEO of the restaurant has condemned the incident and suspended Mr Chaaban, who has also apologised to the victim. Evelyn has, however, rejected the apology.
The Ghana Police Service is currently investigating the matter. Mr Chaaban was invited by the police, interrogated and subsequently granted bail.
There was also a near-attack on Marwako following the incident.
Speaking on the matter via a statement, Mr Daboussi, who condemned the dehumanising assault on Evelyn, however, said some media houses have been one-sided in their reportage.
He also sought to punch holes in some aspects of Evelyn’s account of what transpired adding that the wave of xenophobic rhetoric against Lebanese could degenerate into the South Africa situation if care is not taken.
“…All said and done, having noticed the backlash of unprecedented xenophobic rhetoric against Lebanese and foreigners in general, it is the civil responsibility of every citizen to understand that we do not wish a second South Africa in our country.
“As we fight foreign authorities to save the lives of Ghanaians abroad, we must also endeavour to be fair to foreigners in our land. There is no doubt that singular and isolated incidents of abuse do happen, and when they do, no particular race must be punished collectively for such individual cases.
“Why must a whole race be punished for a singular incident of this nature? Lebanese have been in Ghana for well over one hundred and fifty years. Some even toiled with their local brethren in the Ghanaian fight for independence, so must such a rich history of inter-racial coexistence be jeopardised because of the criminal folly of one individual?,” he said in the statement which is replicated in full below.
MEDIA MUST BE FAIR – 400 Ghanaian Jobs in Jeopardy
The abuse of human rights has long bedeviled the Ghanaian. Criminal practices continue to be perpetrated by both foreign and local elements. Of explicit memory was the case of an African American, who married a local girl and put her up at Adenta some sixteen years ago. He brought upon her grave abuse, which was reported, but did not go viral because there was no social media at the time (or that he was American). In one of his effusions, he was said to have told her to remember that she was the child of slaves, ironically, forgetting his roots were from this beautiful continent called Africa.
There was also the case of a Chinese person who made an employee lick back his own spit because he spat on the factory floor. But we did not agitate, why?
HOW CRIMINAL and HEINOUS
I was deranged to hear of a rather bizarre incident at the Labadi branch of Marwako. It was alleged that a foreigner managing the place shoved the face of a lady employee in fresh ground pepper for ten minutes, and locked her up in a room for over six hours. Something must have happened, but my colleague media practitioners should have been more professional and circumspect with their reportage in their zeal to fight injustice. Professional media houses like Peace fm and citi fm to whom I doff my hat, should have heard the other side of the story instead of starting a crisis for a local business company with over four hundred employees. One couldn’t stand ten seconds in pepper much less 600 seconds (10 minutes). Besides, Ghanaians will never stand aloof and watch such gross abuse of human rights take place before their very eyes. So I would have thought that responsible reporting might have done this case a lot of good such that justice would be obtained for all. In light of the revelations, it so turned out that the culprit splashed the ground pepper into a bowl and some jettisoned onto the victim’s face. Yes, he was foolishly and unnecessarily angry but to have locked her up in a room for well over six hours without treatment would have killed the girl.
So my brethren, it is a matter of reasoning. There is no doubt in my mind that the girl needs to be compensated appropriately and the culprit deported soonest.
However, all said and done, having noticed the backlash of unprecedented xenophobic rhetoric against Lebanese and foreigners in general, it is the civil responsibility of every citizen to understand that we do not wish a second South Africa in our country. As we fight foreign authorities to save the lives of Ghanaians abroad, we must also endeavour to be fair to foreigners in our land. There is no doubt that singular and isolated incidents of abuse do happen, and when they do, no particular race must be punished collectively for such individual cases. Why must a whole race be punished for a singular incident of this nature? Lebanese have been in Ghana for well over one hundred and fifty years. Some even toiled with their local brethren in the Ghanaian fight for independence, so must such a rich history of inter-racial coexistence be jeopardised because of the criminal folly of one individual?
Calling for the boycotting of Marwako is tantamount to destroying the livelihoods of over 400 employees of that fast food chain. These people are paid and well catered for. For what it is worth, it is as criminal as the isolated acts of abuse that we kick against to begin a boycott campaign against Marwako. On the night of March 5, I stopped by the Abelenkpe branch of Marwako to satisfy my grumbling belly. Lo and behold, four thugs on bikes pulled up to the side of the building and rushed into the restaurant. They ransacked the place, struck the tall chicken grill with a chair, and tried to make away with the cash register. As they did that, they hurled many xenophobic abuses until they were accosted by the security and some workers of the branch, who got beaten up in the process, too. Is that the kind of mob justice we journalists want to hype?
My colleague media folks, is this the line we want to tow as Ghana celebrates her 60th Independence anniversary?
Never shall the days of undignified assault return to our dear country. We will never allow that we be tormented in our own country, but we must also never allow ourselves to torment foreigners who have been at peace with us for over one and half centuries due to the singular and individual act of a raging brute.
Let us diffuse this unnecessary tension as the victim seeks legal redress.
We call on the Police to investigate this matter fair and square. We also demand of the Ghana Immigration Service to revoke the permit of the assailant and tag him as “Persona non Grata”.
Fadi Dabbousi Convener