FIGHTING EXTREMISM WITH EXTREMISM
REPORTED BY CARLO CHEDID Photojournalist established in Lebanon @carlochedid
In the northern village of Tekrit in Lebanon's Aakar governorate, Abed and his vigilante group are self-proclaimed doers of justice. We spent some time following and covering their missions and daily life.
After a month without access to running water, Abed and the gang took matters into their own hands: he found a neighbouring water pipe a few hundred metres from his village. This was a great discovery as the pipe had plenty of water pressure. Enough to supply him and his friends and family. He thought of a way to get some back home.
First, he had to get to the source to turn off the main tap to build a connection back to his village, he had information about the location and plans of the main water distribution station. A large water source was nearby in the north. However it did not supply resources to his area.
This was their motive, an unjust system that chooses to distribute resources randomly, ignoring those most in need. A voice, for the voiceless. However, it could not have an effect beyond himself and his close circle.The only thing left was to storm the water distribution station.That day they arrived with guns out and forced the water company employee to open the door.After some commotion, the mission was a success. A hole was dug in the ground, PVC pipes were installed and water flowed abundantly to their house.
On another day, when things seemed too quiet to be true, news was received that former foreign minister Gebran Bassil (and formerly minister of water and energy) was coming to town to make his annual political campaign rounds. Not a welcome figure, even in their northern stronghold of Furioso, they decided to form a physical roadblock. Grabbing everything they could, from sticks to batons and stones. They were the usual suspects, Abed, Omar, Mohammad and Abu Walid. They had gathered a crowd and the situation was getting rowdy until the military descended to open the road and put an end to the small-scale revolt they were trying to achieve.
Chaos ensued: in rounding up the boys, they had inadvertently blocked the passage to another village. A bystander got out of his car and fired shots into the air, a classic scare tactic by the authorities at citizens owning citizens' guns. Further shots were heard in response from the village of Tekrit.
The army kept them cornered while the former minister finished his political rounds.
The third day was spent with Abed and the boys in Tekrit. A classic sit-down discovering their small village, their humble means and their feisty character. A peak into mountain life. A walk through the vegetation, smoking hashish and drinking coffee, guns never leave their side.