[ View the story "Lebanese satirist takes on British ambassador" on Storify] Lebanese satirist takes on British ambassador Public diplomacy gets a satirical spin with dueling open letters for Lebanon's Independence Day.
The Stream· Mon, Nov 25 2013 11:46:45
Fletcher began by praising what he called "the idea of Lebanon".
The thing is, Lebanon, do you still believe in that idea? This is a question only you can answer. Without doubt, it has been a bumpy seven decades, with troublesome teenage years and plenty of midlife crises, to put it mildly.blogs.fco.gov.uk
You’re at a moment of jeopardy. 70 is too young for a country to retire. You can’t just botox away the cracks. Whether you make it to 75 depends on whether you can find a way to regroup, to focus again on what unites rather than divides you. That is not something that you can leave to outsiders. You have to decide whether you’re on the side of those who are fighting over Lebanon. Or with those who are fighting for it. Happy Birthday. Happy Independence Day. Happy One Lebanon Day. Mabrouk, bon courage, and solidarity.blogs.fco.gov.uk
(@KarlreMarks), a UK-based Lebanese satirist popular for his send-ups of Middle East politics and media coverage, took a moment to write a
on behalf of Lebanon.
Dear Britain, We recently received a spam letter from one of your representatives and while we appreciate the effort that went into writing it, you must understand that we are busy and we don’t have time to read advice from former global powers.karlremarks.com
We get the impression that you were talking down to us as a young 70-year-old republic. The key word here is republic, something that still eludes you as you cling to an archaic monarchy and try to pass it off as a national quirk rather than the medieval anachronism that it is.karlremarks.com
We also find it hilarious that you are proud of your Houses of Parliament which are not even two hundred years old. We would be ashamed to show tourists anything that is two hundred years old.karlremarks.com
Did we get the patronising tone right? We were trying to copy your letter, you see English isn’t our first language. (Around here people speak more than one language.)karlremarks.com
The response went viral online and even received a video reply from Fletcher calling the letter "intolerable". After making mock threats against Sharro, Fletcher concluded, "Britain needs much more satire, the Middle East needs much more satire...please do keep up the good work."
Ambassador Tom Fletcher comments on satirestrollerleb
Fletcher also shared his thoughts on Twitter.
News asked if right for @KarlreMarks to parody my Independence Day open letter. Short answer: yes. Longer answer:
@KarlreMarks Thanks Karl. Keep taking down all of us who deserve it. Fingers crossed for region with more free parody. No shortage material.Tom Fletcher
Fletcher's response found approval online, including from Sharro, who wrote on his Facebook page:
Well played Tom, well played. The British ambassador responds to me in threatening fashion.
Kudos to @HMATomFletcher for a good spirited response to @KarlreMarks. We need more ambassadors like this fellow.
Guitta Dabe commented on YouTube:
Thank you ambassador. I and many others (based on the many comments to your letter) loved your letter. It showed clear support of Lebanon by Great Britain, showed the reason why it's so vital for the idea of Lebanon to survive, and at the same time does not sugar coat our problems, and shows tough love by challenging us Lebanese to do better and rely ourselves to save Lebanon.youtube.com
Others were more critical:
I find this response is totally outrageous and not necessary from a "Diplomat" of a Democratic country.youtube.com
@KarlreMarks As a Brit I think this is spot on. His letter was patronisingChristian Henderson
Many left comments on Sharro's blog discussing the intention behind the satire:
Dear Karl While I understand that you are merely writing a satire I feel what you wrote was inappropriate and extremely insulting. It was refreshing to read Toms letter to Lebanon and it instilled hope in me. Its refreshing to know that there are people out there that still believe in us as most Lebanese people have lost hope.karlremarks.com
As innocent and naive as his article might be, it allowed me to dream, at least for a moment, of a Lebanon I would love to have.karlremarks.com