Disability Policy

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The physical therapy department at the Faculty of Health Sciences - BAU celebrated the international day of persons with disabilities on the 1st of December 2016 in collaboration with Moussawat organization and the presence of Islamic Relief Lebanon.

Dr. Khaled El Takey started the event by a speech on how the community must fairly treat people with disabilities and that the potentials these people have are endless and must be exploited right.

Dr. Ibtissam Saab explained the role of physiotherapists in improving the quality of life for disabled people, followed by a speech for Mr. Kamel El Sabbah (head of Moussawat org) who talked for the first time about his disability and how it was a life-changing experience.

The last talk was for an astonishing girl about her everyday challenges with disability and her family support.

Finally an entertainment activity for the disabled children took place where children danced, colored and played with PT students, then gifts were distributed for the children and memorial pictures were taken.

BAU Awareness Raising Day for the Disabled

Seeking to support the people with disabilities and to integrate them into the Lebanese society and economy via procuring the environment which meets their needs and capabilities in the job market, the Human Rights Centre at Beirut Arab University, together with the CRS Association and in cooperation with EDAN and Arcanciel, organized an awareness raising day concerning the people with disabilities in Lebanon.

On that day, students from the Faculty of Architectural Engineering presented an integrated engineering project for the development of the Hariri Building at BAU to meet all the needs of disabled people.

Students from the Faculty of Law and Political Sciences clarified the rights which the disabled enjoy according to Article (220) of the Lebanese Law which stipulates the necessity of procuring an environment suitable for the disabled to carry out their everyday life activities.

The Centre for Entrepreneurship at BAU participated in presenting the ways the disabled can execute the projects that meet their physical capabilities and how to raise the funds necessary for these projects.

Students from the Faculty of Arts elucidated the codes of conduct and behavior necessary to deal with disabled.

During the day, a dialogue was held in which Dr. Omar Houri gave a talk and some short movies were shown, shedding light on the obstacles that the disabled face in both the society and the job market. Moreover, some testimonies and speeches were presented by some disabled people calling for the rectification of some offensive expressions and abusive behaviors towards the disabled.

Mr. Fadi Al Halabi, the known activist and media figure, summarized the challenges that the disabled face, stating that there are 100,000 disabled people in Lebanon, 80% of whom suffer from unemployment and 60% from illiteracy. Ms. Fadia Farah, Head of the Lebanese Association for Self Advocacy, attributed the injustice of the job market towards the disabled to the absence of experience in setting and observing the laws concerned with the disabled.

In his turn, Mr. Ibrahim Abdallah, Head of the Disabled Union in Lebanon, criticized the governmentÂ’s inefficiency as related to the issue of the disabled, and accredited the achievements to the efforts exerted by the concerned associations actively involved in the field.

Iftar for children with disabilities

The Faculty of Health Sciences in Tripoli organized an Iftar for children with disabilities on 14/4/2022, in collaboration with Khayr Umma NGO and the Arab Union for Specialized Women. The event included entertainment games, a play about healthy lifestyle for kids and other activities in a joyful Ramadani atmosphore. The event was concluded with gift distribution and the children left the university premises after spending happy moments with the faculty students.

UN Marks 70th Anniversary of Universal Declaration of Human Rights at BAU [6]

Under the theme “A Defender for a Right”, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre in Beirut (UNIC Beirut) and Beirut Arab University (BAU), organized a special ceremony to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and celebrate Human Rights Day that falls annually on 10 December.

The ceremony, which was held at BAU Premises, was attended by Bassam Al-Halabi, representative of Minister of State for Human Rights Affairs Ayman Choucair, MP and Head of the Parliamentary Committee for Human Rights Michel Moussa, MP and representative of Prime Minister-designate Saad Hariri Roula Tabesh, Regional Representative of OHCHR Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA) Roueida El-Hage, Director of the UN Information Centre in Beirut Margo El-Helou, President of the Lebanese Constitutional Council Issam Sleiman, President of Beirut Arab University Amr Galal El-Adawi and BAU Secretary General Omar Houri. The ceremony was also attended by representatives of military and security leaders, BAU professors and students, representatives of media outlets and organizations specialized in human rights issues.

The Opening

The Opening featured statements by Choucair, Moussa, El-Hage, and El-Adawi, as well as a video-taped message by the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and a reportage on the BAU university and its major Faculties.

In his statement, Choucair said that decent life is the main issue that must be addressed when defending human rights, adding that the lack of sense of citizenship among people stops them from enjoying their basic human rights. “Citizenship is not a law,” he noted, “it is a struggle”. Choucair added that the Middle East is unfortunately witnessing a breach of human rights, especially in the presence of major powers that seek to destroy on daily basis the concept of democracy and reject peace and justice in the region.” He pointed out that citizens must strengthen their sense of belonging to their countries away from their social and sectarian affiliations in order for human rights to be attained in the communities.

For his part, Moussa pointed out that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) has become a ‘unified constitution’ in the world that regulate the preservation and respect of human rights, despite the blatant violations recorded throughout the past 70 years. “There is no doubt that hate speech is caused by conflicts, wars, poverty, and religious extremism, as well as the absence of political and cultural awareness that ignites hatred, intolerance and negative inherited traditions.” Moussa also stressed in his speech the need to control and confront hate speech, adding that this requires close cooperation between governments and civil society to enact effective legislations that regulate the work of educational and social institutions, media, including social media, while preserving the freedom of individuals.

El-Hage began her statement by recalling that the UDHR is enshrined in the preamble of the Lebanese Constitution. “Its principles are therefore constitutionally mandatory, surpassing national legislation, and many countries have followed Lebanon’s example,” she noted. “Although the UDHR has helped many people gain more freedoms and rights, we are still witnessing systematic violations in the world. The struggle for human rights is not over yet,” she added. El-Hage also mentioned some world figures reflecting the progress achieved after the adoption of UDHR. These include increase in women representation in Parliament to one quarter of the total number of Parliamentarians in most countries, increase in the number of countries that abolished death penalty, provision of access to information for all, and offering guarantees for persons with disabilities, including minority groups, migrants and refugees, among others.

El-Adawi in his statement said that “intolerance, xenophobia and incitement to racial and religious hatred all endanger the very essence of human rights.” He also noted that “BAU is one of the first universities in the Arab region that introduced the human rights course as a compulsory requirement for all university students and this shows its unwavering commitment to human rights principles. It also established a Human Rights Center in 2009, whereby volunteers participate in awareness raising activities aiming at combating extremism through social media networks.” El-Adawi concluded his statement by saying that BAU is committed to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and its related 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as member of the Global Compact Network in Lebanon. “BAU is constantly seeking to achieve social justice and sustainable development in the country,” he pledged.

An Interactive Discussion

After the opening, El-Hage, together with Reda Abdel Aziz, a lawyer and regional human rights trainer, moderated an interactive dialogue entitled “Promoting Positive Messages” tackling the role of social media and arts in combating hate speech. The discussion also engaged Omar Houri, human rights activists Mirvat Rishmawi and Joumana Merhi, and human rights expert Habib Belkoush.

The dialogue discussed in detail current legislative and policy measures adopted by countries of the region to combat hate speech through social media. Discussions also tackled civil society efforts and initiatives in fighting hate speech, with special focus on the role of the youth.

Media and People with Special Needs at BAU

The relationship between the people with special needs and the media, the role of the media in integrating these people in the public life, and their depiction in the media were the main topics of the Discussion Panel organized by the Faculty of Arts at Beirut Arab University, entitled “Media and People with Special Needs”. The event which was held on the 18th of March, 2014 at the Main Campus in Beirut, hosted Attorney Mr. Nizar Saghieh, the Journalists Mrs. Diana Moukalled, Mr. Imad Raef and Mr. Fadi El Halaby.

The event was attended by Prof. Dr. Essam Osman, Vice-President for Medical Sciences, Prof. Dr. Mayssah El Nayal, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Dr. Jamal Megahed, Head of the Mass Communication Department, in addition to staff members and a large crowd of students and graduates.

After playing the Lebanese and the BAU Anthems, the Journalist Ms. Wafa Saraya opened the Panel, highlighting that people with special needs are more determined and strong-willed than most, and deserve to receive their full rights. She also pointed out that the media should cast light on their issues, embrace them, and cease to depict them as worthy of pity.

Prof. Dr. Mayssah El Nayal emphasized that being a person with a special need does not mean to accept defeat in life, but should rather be a motivation for achievement and challenging difficulties. She pointed out to the role of the media in accepting people with special needs as active members of the society, and the role of the universities in producing Researches that endow the issue with specialized perspectives and allow a scientific approach to deal with it.

Prof. El Nayal further drew the attention to the initiative made by the Mass Communication Department at the Faculty of Arts in registering students for the special needs course as a minor. The aim is to bring this group of people into the limelight and invest their potentials in the media.

Dr. Jamal Megahed, pointed out that the impact of the media on society is not exploited towards the benefit of the society, in particular for disabled people. He criticized the various forms of discriminations against people with special needs, the way in which the media enhances perceptions of disability, and the use of the medical model and stereotypes which reflect a negative and non-empowering image.

Dr. Megahed also highlighted the lack of representation of the disabled in the field of media. He emphasized the need to develop the communicative rights of the individual and the society, while raising awareness of the rights of people with special needs, not only in terms of human aspects, but also in terms of human rights. It is essential for the public opinion to support these people, and both the state and people in charge of the media should therefore become attentive to this important issue.

Next, a short film prepared by the Mass Communication Department was presented. The film was entitled “Conqueror of the Impossible”, and documents the personal experience of the Lebanese athlete Edward Maalouf, who excelled in hand-cycling and conquered his disability. After the film, the Discussion Panel Guests took turns; Diana Moukalled started by describing the issue as controversial, and refused the isolation of disabled people since it is not of any use when it comes to the integration of the disabled. Moukalled called upon media to bring people with special needs to the front by projecting an image that is more representative of them, instead of being limited news coverage and programs about their needs. She stressed on the role played by pressure-groups in crystallizing initiatives that may contribute to the improvement of this negative image.

Attorney Nizar Saghieh in turn criticized the delay in implementing Law 220 in Lebanon. He called upon the media to cast light on the reasons behind such delay, and to launch activist and media battles to attain this right. He also pointed out the need for documentaries that throw light on the legal and activist aspects associated with this issue. Saghieh also spoke about the importance of strategic litigation for disabled people to enable them to bring their voice into courts of law, as well as the necessity of compensating those who have lost their jobs due to their disability.

Mr. Imad Raef explained the meaning of integrating media which realizes the rights of all social components. He called upon media to deal with the issue of people with special needs through a social model, not a medical or care-needing model. He also called upon people with special needs to formulate projects and ideas in an applicable and feasible language. He expressed his regret at the structural and financial problems faced by civil organizations which should be tackling this issue.

Mr. Fadi El Halaby, activist and media-person, argued that presenting the disabled in a negative image leads to disabling the person further. He expressed his wish that the media would deal with the disabled as a person and a human being, and not in terms of the disability. He stressed the need not to depict the disabled as a victim or as a hero. He drew on his personal experience in his T.V. Show “Tawasoul”, where he worked for a full year on various issues before tackling topics related to disability and people with special needs.

The Discussion Panel also hosted the first blind TV correspondent, Nasser Ballout, who is a student at the Mass Communication Department. The students told the audience how his parents had refused to raise him in isolated institutions. During his school years and university life he had been enrolled in mixed institutions. He called upon the concerned authorities to ensure early integration of the disabled in a natural social context.

The Panel concluded with Prof. Dr. Mayssah El Nayal, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, presenting honorary shields to the guests.