You will probably have heard of the shocking story by now, or even seen the video.
On Wednesday, a man called Tarek Yateem murdered another man in cold blood in front of his wife in broad daylight because of a road rage incident. Tarek Yateem stabbed George 15 times and hit his wife while the people on the sidewalk and on the balconies of the busy street stood by and watched (and even filmed the incident)!
This guy, Tarek Yateem, is the bodyguard of prominent businessman Antoun Sehnaoui, the chairman of Société Générale de Banque au Liban. This is not the first time that the “men” of this chairman have attacked, beaten, and killed innocent people.
I will not post a link of the video of the attack here, or the pictures. They are too shocking. If you really want to see them then go and do a simple google search.
Understandably, there have been calls for the death penalty for Tarek Yateem all over social media among the Lebanese citizens. I understand. We are all sick of Lebanon being a jungle where people are murdered in broad daylight. We are sick of our government and our corrupt systems which protect gangster bank chairmen and politicians while issuing tickets to citizens for not having a fire extinguisher in their car trunks.
But, I still do not think Tarek Yateem should get the death penalty. Please hear out my reasons:
If we kill Tarek Yateem we are speaking his language
We want to kill Tarek because we hate how he killed someone. We want to kill him because we do not like killing. There is a problem with this logic. You do not fight fire with fire, but with water. If we advocate for his killing we, as a society, become another murderer. If we kill Tarek Yateem then he has been successful in teaching us all the language of death rather than life.
If we kill Tarek Yateem we will not solve the problem
Various statistics from all over the world continuously show that the death penalty does not reduce crime. What we really want is to keep Tarek Yateem, and his likes, off the streets. That means removing POLITICAL PROTECTION off the thugs. Tarek killed a man in broad daylight because he knew that with a few right phone calls by the right people he will be out of jail in a few days. That is the problem.
So, rather than calling for death for Tarek we can call for a boycott of Société Générale de Banque au Liban. We can, and should, monitor the case of Tarek Yateem in the media and courts to make sure he is placed in jail and stays in jail. Many times these Lebanese calls for action are a temporary wave, a new fashion if you want, that we soon forget and move on.
We can and should ask for better prisons so that people like Tarek who will spend tens of years there would find correction and not beatings, transformation and not demonizing, and would leave prison better people not worse.
We are not better than Tarek Yateem
We are not. I am not. You are not. We are all sinners in need of God’s grace. We all, daily, murder others with our words. We all daily murder the environment around us. Would you like your hand to be cut off when you steal or your tongue when you lie? Have you never been in a fight and hit someone before? Have you never made someone cry? Have you never been dishonest?
We are all equal in front of God and we all need His grace. Yes, even Tarek. God loves us all, even Tarek. He knows and sees. Let us seek justice but leave revenge up to him.
Even Tarek deserves a second chance. If we end his life now we are saying: Tarek, we do not believe that you will change in the coming 50 remaining years of your life. We know the future Tarek and we have seen that there is no use of your life, so we will end it.
What can we do then? We can stand by George’s widow and her four children by showing solidarity and helping out financially. We can boycott Société Générale de Banque au Liban. We can demand from our representatives in parliament that they make fixing our prison system a priority. We can track the situation of Tarek Yateem and make sure he does not get out of jail before he has served his just time. For humanitarian organizations which work in prison, they can visit Tarek to offer him counselling and guidance.
For all of us, we can drive more safely, stop carrying guns and knives. shout less, honk less, curse less, and be more gracious on the streets.
But please, let us not commit more murders.
We have had enough death.
No more death.
We need life
Let us stand in prayer:
In your mercy
In your mercy,
Heal George and Tarek’s families.
In your mercy,
Give us life
مدونة حيث تجتمع الجوارح
ملاحظة: الجوارح تلك النسور التي تأكل الجثث. وإن أردت معرفة لما اخترت هذا الإسم الغريب فاقرأ مدونتي الأولى
مدونة #24: لما أنا ضد عقوبة الإعدام لطارق يتيم
قد تكونوا سمعتم بالقصة الرهيبة أو حتى رأيتم الفيديو
نهار الأربعاء أقدم طارق يتيم على قتل رجل أعزل في وضح النهار أمام زوجته وبسب مشلكة في قيادة السيارة. طعن طارق يتيم جورج 15 مرة وضرب زوجته بينما وقف الناس يتفرجون على الطريق أو من الشرفات المتعددة في الطريق المزدحم – والبعض حتى أخذ الصور
هذا الشخص، طارق يتيم، يعمل كحارس لرجل الأعمال المعروف أنطوان صحناوي، مدير بنك سوسيتيه جنرال في لبنان. هذه ليست أول مرة يقوم بها “رجال” هذا المدير المحترم بالتعدي على ناس أبرياء وضربهم وقتلهم
لن أضع عنوان الفيديو أو الصور هنا. هي تثير الإشمئزاز. إن أردت مشاهدة الفيديو فبحث بسيط على جوجل يقودك إليه
وبشكل طبيعي برزت دعوات كثيرة على وسائل التواصل الإجتماعي لإحقاق عقوبة الإعدام بطارق يتيم. أنا أتفهم الأمر. كلنا سئمنا لبنان الغابة حيث يُقتل الناس في وضح النهار. سئمنا حكومتنا وأنظمتنا العفنة الفاسدة التي تحمي رؤساء البنوك الزعران والسياسيين الفاسدين بينما تعطي محاضر ضبط للمواطن الذي ينسى وضع مطفأة حريق في صندوق سيارته
ولكن، بالرغم من ذلك، أنا لا أعتقد أنه يجب على طارق أن يموت. وإليكم الأسباب
إذا قتلنا طارق يتيم نكون نتكلم لغته
نريد أن نقتل طارق لأننا نكره كيف هو قتل أحدهم. نريد أن نقتله لأننا لا نحب القتل. هناك مشكلة بهذا المنطق. لا تحارب النار بالنار بل بالماء. إذا طالبنا بقتله نكون نحن كمجتمع قاتل آخر. إذا قتلنا طارق يتيم يكون هو قد نجح بتعليمنا لغة الموت بدل احياة
إذا قتلنا طارق يتيم لن نحل المشكلة
هناك عدة دراسات من حول العالم والنتائج دائما تقول أن عقوبة الإعدام لا تقلل الجرائم. الذي نريده حقا هو أن يبقى طارق يتيم، وأمثاله، بعيدين عن الطريق والمجتمع. هذا يعني إزالة الحماية السياسية عن الزعران. طارق قتل رجل في وضح النهار لأنه يعلم أن بضعة اتصالات مناسبة من بضعة أشخاص كفيلة بإخراجه من السجن بعد بضعة أيام. هذه هي المشكلة
إذا، عوضا عن الدعوة لقتل طارق بإمكاننا أن ندعو لمقاطعة بنك سوسيته جنرال في لبنان. بإمكاننا متابعة قضية طارق في الإعلام والمحاكم لنتأكد أنه سيدخل السجن ويبقى في السجن. في الكثير من الأحيان نحن اللبنانيين ندعو لأمر معين مثل موجة بحر ومن ثم ننسى الأمر ونتابع حياتنا بشكل طبيعي
يجب أن نطالب بسجون أفضل لكي يجد طارق وأمثاله في عشرات السنوات التي سيقضونها في السجن التصحيح وليس التعذيب، التغيير وليس الشيطنة، ويتركوا السجن بحال أفضل مما دخلوه
نحن لسنا أفضل من طارق يتيم
لسنا أفضل. لست أنا أفضل. أنت لست أفضل. كلنا خطاة في أعين الله ونحتاج لنعمته. كلنا، يوميا، نقتل الآخرين بكلماتنا. كلنا يوميا نفتل البيئة من حولنا. هل تريد قطع يدك عندما تسرق أو قطع لسانك عندما تكذب؟ ألم تكن في حياتك في شجار وضربت أحدهم؟ ألم تجعل أحد يبكي؟ ألم ترتكب يوما الغش؟
كلنا سواسية أمام الله وكلنا نحتاج لنعمته. نعم، حتى طارق. الله يحبنا كلنا حتى طارق. هو يرى ويعلم. لنطلب العدل ولنترك الإنتقام له
حتى طارق يستحق فرصة ثانية. إذا أنهينا حياته الآن فنحن نقول له: طارق، نحن لا نؤمن بأنك ستتغير في الـ50 سنة المتبقية من حياتك. نحن نعلم المستقبل يا طارق وقد رأينا أن لا منفعة من حياتك وسننهيها الآن
ماذا بإمكاننا أن نفعل إذا؟ بإمكاننا أن نقف مع ارملة جورج وأولادها الأربعة ونريها الدعم المعنوي ونعطيها المساعدة المادية. بإمكاننا أن نقاطع بنك سوسيته جنرال في لبنان. بإمكاننا أن نطالب ممثلينا في البرلمان بتحسين نظام السجون وجعل الأمر أوليوية. بإمكاننا أن نتابع وضع طارق ونتأكد أنه خدم كل سنين عقوبته العادلة. وبإمكان المنظمات الإنسانية أن تزور طارق وتعطيه المشورة والقيادة
وكلنا بإمكاننا أن نقود بشكل آمن أكثر، نتوقف عن حمل السكاكين والمسدسات، نصرخ أقل، نطلق الزمور أقل، نسب أقل، يكون لدينا نعمة أكثر على الطريق
ولكن أرجوكم، دعونا لا نرتكب المزيد من جرائم القتل
دعونا نقف لنصلي
اشف عائلتي جورج وطارق
4 thoughts on “Why I am Against the Death Penalty for Tarek Yateem – لم أنا ضد عقوبة الإعدام لطارق يتيم”
Why I am *for* the Death Penalty
“Oh that my head were a spring of water and my eyes a fountain of tears! I would weep day and night for the slain of my people” (Jer. 9:1).
Yes, I have heard and read about the shocking story and have watched the dreadful video which has left me speechless, disgusted, and angry.
The murder in brief, Tarek Yateem (TY hereafter), described by eyewitnesses as a 150 kilograms killing machine, stabbed George Reef 17 times, kicked him in the head and body many times over. As a result, George’s skull was crushed and his face marred beyond recognition with the former becoming 35 pieces and the latter 54 loose pieces of bone. What was George’s heinous crime? He chased TY with his car and cursed him over a preferential lane on the driveway. How insolent from George!
I am left speechless at a broad daylight crime committed in front of (apparently) nonchalant bystanders and passersby. Only one woman driving a car stopped, went down from her car and said something (which I could not make out from the video). The murderer did not budge, of course, and continued on his murderous spree. It could have been me!
I am disgusted and appalled by the scene of gruesome killing, in the worst possible way, by someone who, clearly, has lost all his senses and is driven by his most basic instinct of hate. Is this what we have come to in Lebanon?
I am angry at such a horrific cold-blooded crime, angry at the injustice, angry for the tears of the oppressed (Ecc. 4:1), angry for being part of a hopelessly corrupt country and system which has locked us permanently in a daily struggle for rising up above the level of the mundane and the mediocre.
I am angry at TY who, when confronted with the news that the one he repeatedly and violently stabbed died, in cold indifference smiled and said, “I am not sorry”. What a bold manifestation of an antisocial personality disorder (a.k.a. a sociopath). TY also refused to assign a lawyer claiming boldly, “I am the murderer and I am the lawyer”. Imagine someone like TY being the military leader (Commander in Chief) of a national army. What kind of atrocities would he be responsible for?
I am angry at TY because when he was asked about his crime, he replied, “I was angry because he came after me. After he refused to step aside with his car, he cursed me when I went towards him. My anger increased. Who does he think he is? A patrol of the national security? Who is he to follow me?” TY also denied, during the course of the investigation, that he was under the influence of any drug(s) during the murder. Which means he was in full control (supposedly) of his mental faculties. Another point worthy of mentioning that the coolness and collectedness of TY during the arrest provoked even the security personnel. Refer to the articles published by Assafir and Annahar describing TY’s words and reactions.
You’d probably reply, you are angry, Ramzi, and TY was angry. In what way(s) is your anger any different ? There is a world of difference! TY’s feelings of anger, although initially justified, led him to a cold-blooded murder with all that entails. My anger is neither for my own pride and dignity nor for my selfish ends but I am aspiring and praying for justice. My anger is for the pain of a woman losing her husband. My anger is for children who have lost their father and their financial and emotional means of support. My anger is for a country gone wild and turning into the wild American West. The words from Judges keep echoing in my ear, “in those days there was no king in ______ (fill-in the blanks with our country), everyone did as he pleased” (Jud. 17:6, 21:25).
(AA) If we kill TY Yateem we are speaking his language.
And what language may that be? A point to note is to distinguish the difference between two words: “kill” and “murder”. There is a mistake in many English translations of Ex. 20:13 (for example) where it is rendered, “Thou shalt not kill” (e.g., the KJV) where the correct translation is “You shall not murder.” I will not go into the intricacies of translation here but in case interested, I can elaborate more on this issue.
The relevant Biblical teaching supporting capital punishment is found in the following three passages:
(1) Genesis 9:5-6. [And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”]
(2) Romans 13:1-7. [Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed.]
(3) 1 Peter 2:13-14. [Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.]
If these passages are not clear enough, I am willing to go deeper and also tackle opposing views. Let me know.
Please note here that I am not seeking and I am not motivated by vengeance. I am not seeking personal revenge as I am in no way related to the incident except for sense of justice. I am only asking that the government takes its assigned role. Nothing else.
(BB) If we kill TY we will not solve the problem.
And what exactly is the problem you are referring to? The problem of sin? The problem of George Reef’s death? the problem of corrupt politicians? The problem of murder? I know that an execution will not restore the life of George Reef. But it will restore justice and maintain peace. At the minimum, we will feel safe going out again instead of cowing in cowardice whenever someone honks a car horn at us. It will restore our confidence in a country gone amok. Moreover, the statement, “various statistics from all over the world continuously shoe that the death penalty does not reduce crime” is absolutely FALSE. I do not know what are your sources but I can provide you some sources which claim that capital punishment does indeed deter crime and I refer to a study conducted by Roy D. Adler and Michael Summers published in the Wall Street Journal on 02/Nov/2007. For each murderer executed (in the United States), as many as 14-18 additional murders are deterred! “Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.” (Ecc. 8:11).
(CC) We are not better than TY.
No we are not, *and* yes we are. Let me explain. No, we are not better than TY in that we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). We are all sinners saved by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith (sola fide) although there are different degrees of sin and accordingly different levels of punishment (Joh. 19:11). Some of us have committed every sin mentioned in the Bible, but we are not left there. “And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor. 6:11).
However, we are indeed better than TY in that we are law abiding citizens and we aspire and look to live a life pleasing to our Lord and God (Col. 3:17) and at peace with our neighbor (Rom. 12:18) and this is our sole purpose in life. Does that mean we are better intrinsically, in our basic essence and worth? No, we are not. But how is that an argument against capital punishment in such a horrifying murder case as this, I do not know.
Yes, TY does deserve a second chance. But a second chance at what? At going outside and committing another blood curling murder? I hope and pray NOT! The Gospel message is open and available for TY to hear and respond to. If you wish, we can arrange a visit in jail and present God’s free gift of salvation. TY would be free to accept or reject. But to give TY another chance to leave (God forbid) jail or even to serve a life sentence in jail (there is a chance that he would be later on released) would be a crime in itself! At least, by presenting the Gospel message to TY, we would be granting him the free gift of salvation which TY denied to George Reef (as I see it). There is no Lex Talionis here!
How do you deter further murders of this sort? The longer TY is kept incarcerated, the higher is the probability that the public will forget his crime and that he will be released by a political maneuver or an exchange of some sort. The only way to stop that would be for a publicly televised execution. Yes, there are many more out there who have committed worse crimes (I don’t know what could be worst), but their turn will come if not under the heavens, then on judgment day. But in no way that is an excuse for denying execution for TY.
Yes, we are to stand by George’s widow and we should. But to boycott SGBL would be irrelevant. You are using a murder case and transforming it into a political issue. While I am in no way a supporter of the one who employed TY but you won’t be able to make any case in court against his employer. No court in the world would accept that unless you can make the connection that TY’s murder of George Reef was ordered/planned/instigated by his employer. We will eventually argue about the chicken and the egg and who came first, corrupt politicians lead to corrupt constituents or corrupt constituents lead to corrupt politicians, and politically speaking, Lebanese Christians are divided among themselves into so many factions that it is sickening. Let us remember God’s answer to Solomon’s prayer: “…if My people, who are called by My name…” (2 Chr. 7:14). Who are the people today that are called by His name? Aren’t they the ones who call themselves Christians? I think this is very relevant to Lebanese Christians who have forsaken their God and Savior and run after so many different things.
“Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, and when it falls on anyone, it will crush him” (Luk. 20:18).
(All Scripture quotations are from the English Standard Version).
Thank you Ramzi for taking the time to comment and think through this subject.
Your well-written and argued answer goes to show that this issue is a complex one and needs to be discussed more in the church.
Please note that I was not making a general argument against capital punishment, though I am prone to be against it. If anything, in the case of Lebanon, as you mentioned above about political corruption, perhaps capital punishment is the only assurance that a criminal will actually stay off the streets.
Now, allow me to briefly comment on your points:
In point 1 you distinguish between “killing” and “murder” and list a number of Biblical passages. I have not done research into these specific passages nor is this my area of expertise (I am doing doctoral research in purity issues in Mark) but I will do my best.
Genesis 9 represent the justice of God. It is beautiful and was, in its own time, a law that would ensure that human life is respected. It also represents the ancient view of blood as containing life. I would think that Jesus’ teachings give us a deeper meaning of being the image of God. See, for instance, Matthew 5, where Jesus speaks of being like the Father (image of God) in loving our enemy for our Father shines his sun on both good and evil people. The sermon on the mount, in different instances, has Jesus saying “you have heard it said but I say to you,” so Jesus is explaining the true spirit or intent of the law, and he is using the lenses of mercy (see Marcus’ Borg argument, 1998, among others, who argues that Jesus explained and read the law through the core value of compassion). So, the main leading hermeneutic when approaching the Law in the Hebrew Bible is love of God and neighbor.
Over and against the Romans 13 and 1 Peter passages you have clear passages which call Christians to follow the higher authority of God over humans (see the Revelations’ conflict between Babel and the city of God, God and Satan – see also the disciples in Acts refusing to obey the authorities, among other examples). Moreover, I am not arguing that we attack the Lebanese authorities if they execute Tarek. They might. I was just appalled by the direct and immense reaction from many Lebanese Christians whose first reaction was to call for TY’s death. Also note that Paul and Peter were writing in a time when Christians were a scattered minority without any political power. Also note Paul’s language in Romans 13 and how he, subtly, sets God above the emperor, for instance verse 1 contradicts the emperor’s claim of being God by reminding the Christians that it is actually God who has assigned the emperor and other authorities and they are merely his servants. Jesus’ own words of walking the extra mile if a Roman soldier makes you walk one, is in itself subversive, for in that way you are shaming the soldier who is only allowed to make you walk one mile by law (also stripping of all your clothes when asked to merely hand over your outer tunic). If anything, the NT is deeply subversive of authority and calls for obedience to a higher call, the Kingdom of God.
In point 2 you present some good evidence that capital punishment might be beneficial. I do not have any research at hand right now. I have read multiple articles making the claim I have made but I did not keep record of them. Thank you for presenting that piece of evidence. I promise to do more reading in that area. I stand corrected.
I do not think that Tarek is the problem. There are thousands like him. should we kill them all? There is deep-seated corruption in our system. A cancer, if you want, one that has invaded every part of our system. I do not trust this government to wield the ax. Today Tarek’s crime is obvious. Tomorrow we kill someone innocent. We have garbage all over the streets in Lebanon. Do you think the problem will be solved if the minister in charge is ousted? The next one will do the same. We need to strike at the root of the problem, political protection for criminals. Is that possible? I do not know. Honestly. Many days I think Lebanon is beyond redemption. What I do know is that killing TY will NOT solve the problem and will not make our streets safer.
As for your claim that his employer is innocent, well that would be fine if his employer was a man who sits in his office and works in business. Antoun el Sahnawy’s men have committed various crimes (if you ask for documentation then please read through the archives of the local newspapers). His boys killed the guy in Dekweneh last year, also spotted on camera, and left prison after a few days. His boys have been known to instigate fights all over Beirut. I argue that TY was this bold in doing his crime BECAUSE he has Antoun el Sahnawy protecting his back. Yes, his boss needs to know that he has to take his hand off the criminals working for him.
Will boycotting SGBL by a few poor people like me do anything? Probably not. But I choose to channel my anger against this crime at its root rather than at the pawn called Tarek Yateem. I am not calling for the boycott because of political issues. I am not affiliated with any political party. It seems most people get it but you. George’s widow and the people of Ashrafeyye demonstrated in front of Sahnawy’s house the day after the crime (check my Facebook where I shared the video). Are they all making the issue political? No, they are sick and angry from this mafia guy who has his men all over the streets of Beirut committing crimes without any fear of retribution. I ask you to reconsider my words and to read more in this. I ask you, because it is clear from your words that you care for justice and I deeply appreciate that in a Christian, to join us in boycotting SGBL and to tell all your friends. Let us, for once, do a peaceful movement that will show the corrupt political systems that the people are not sheep that stay silent in the face of all atrocities.
I know I did not answer all your questions. I do concede that you present a good argument. In all honesty Ramzi a big part of me wants to see Tarek dead. I will not deny that or act all “holy.” But another part of me deep down inside feels that this is the wrong move. We are followers of Christ, and death (murder or killing) is not our language 🙂
Glad to have this conversation with you.
Tarek need to be hanged…but not only Tarek. Tarek is an ignorant murderer, a worthless piece of garbage that does not have any value! The person that should be punished is the one that has people like this scumbag on our streets! His boss that prevented him from properly being punished for the crimes he committed before! If Tarek was in Jail, where he belongs, then George would be alive today! Antoun Sehnaoui, need to answer to this! Antoun killed George by keeping Tarek on our streets! Antoun is an accessory to the murder and if he is not punished for this, then we will continue forever to deal with the politicians’, feudal lords’, and rich men’s cockroaches on our streets! Anton Sehnaoui and others like him need to keep their these cockroaches off our street!
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Thank you Hamid for your comment. While I do not agree that killing Tarek will solve the problem, I do agree that the main problem is with the man behind Tarek. I would encourage you to boycott SGBL and tell others to do the same so that the chairman will feel the pressure.