By Joseph El-Khoury
I resisted the urge to join the Ziad Baroud’s fan club on Facebook as I generally believe in supporting ideas rather than individuals in position of authority; although I have to say I came close to praising him in private as the saviour of our otherwise decrepit republic.
Understandably at least 25000 of my compatriots appreciate the interior minister. In excess of 20 Facebook groups are dedicated to showing appreciation to his performance and his policies, with one group of 40 members from both sexes declaring him’ very cute!!’
The thing about Ziad Baroud is that he is unremarkable in so many ways. He is not particularly charismatic; he speaks in a funny accent and is rather technical in his approach. I suspect that these unthreatening ‘qualities’ were at least partly behind him getting the job in the first place, sponsored by President Suleiman. While the Maronite scene is buzzing with young aspiring scions of political families, this young minister from Kesrwan went about his business, delivering an exceptionally well organised election process in the most challenging of conditions. Navigating carefully between a sceptical majority and a suspicious opposition, he kept his public interventions succinct and to the point. Nevertheless, judging from his long history of activism within civil society, the man is not lacking in opinions and has made his views clear on a number of issues relating to citizenship and human rights.
His term in office can be described as the highlight of the previous government, dwarfing the gesticulations of a Gebran Bassil and the posturing of a Mohammad Shatah. Unfortunately the bipolarity that the Lebanese revel in leaves little space for conscientious ministers like him. We hear rumours that he will not be returned to his post or to another one, amidst competition for the interior ministry between the Future movement of Hariri and Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.
In the absence of a civil and political movement to embrace these secular upright characters, we remain in a situation where fan clubs are created and poems recited to this rare phenomenon in post-Taef Lebanon. I fear a time where Ziad Baroud keyholders become fashion accessories and a dedicated museum is attracting crowds to his hometown of Jeita.
Beyond the irony, I pity a country that idolises a civil servant for doing his job.