Lebanese lawyer Wadih Akl, a member of the Political Bureau of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), proposed in a tweet on Monday what he deemed as a solution for the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in the country.
His suggested proposal, according to him, will ensure that everybody in Lebanon receives it, in one condition, “To exclusively give the vaccine to the Lebanese.”
His suggestion is that those who can pay for their vaccine can do so in cash or via their dollars withheld by the banks, “as such, we can give a chance to secure a bigger amount of vaccines for those who can’t [pay] and we support the health sector,” he explained.
He then literally added, “Condition, to exclusively give the vaccine to the Lebanese.”
The FPM attorney at law and legal consultant, as his Twitter profile presents him, overlooked in his proposal two major issues that, combined, make of this plan a denial of the obvious reality that is Lebanon today.
Residents of Lebanon, whether Lebanese or foreigners, have to line up every morning, long before the Lebanese banks open, hoping to extricate whatever little cash the limits allow this week in order to feed their families and pay their basic dues.
The “withheld dollars” he mentioned do not exist. They are locked in cash-strapped banks that have imposed harsh capital controls on the people, after years of funneling deposits to a dysfunctional state drowning in debt.
The other main issue this proposal failed to take into serious consideration is that the pandemic doesn’t discriminate between Lebanese and non-Lebanese.
Logically, that would mean the virus will continue roaming around and infecting people, Lebanese included.
The proposal is deemed lacking human responsibility as it intimates that non-Lebanese, whether refugees, migrant workers, foreign diplomats, and foreign students, should be left to catch the virus and suffer its lethal effects.
Naturally, many reacted on social media against the FPM lawyer who received extreme backlash over his tweet. Many even accused him of being racist for saying that the vaccine should be given exclusively to Lebanese nationals.
At the backlash, Akl sent out another tweet the next day to clarify his point, rejecting to be called racist and explaining that he meant by his proposal to help the poor Lebanese people.
“Yesterday, I wrote an idea about the vaccine’s distribution plan with the possibility of participating financially to benefit the poor, and I specified that I only want the poverty-stricken Lebanese to benefit from my idea with transparency to prevent corruption,” Akl wrote.
A counter-reaction emerged at once on Twitter, with FPM partisans supporting the FPM lawyer and his proposal with tweets hashtagged “Vaccine For Lebanese First” in Arabic.
As some Lebanese found the hashtag utterly irrational and racist, FPM partisans defended it as ‘completely necessary,’ expressing that Lebanese should have priority over other nationalities residing in Lebanon, which according to them is not an act of racism but rather patriotism.
Since patriotism involves the overall interest of the country, it includes saving it from the raging non-discriminating pandemic, which won’t be logically possible with a discriminating plan of vaccination.
It is worth noting that this controversial proposal and the fierce debate around it wouldn’t be necessary if the state steps up and declares its intention to assume its responsibility towards the people and do what all other governments in the world are doing in regard to vaccination:
Giving it freely to everyone who wishes to get vaccinated.