In the wake of the Starco Bombing last month which killed eight people including 16-year-old Mohammed al-Chaar, a social media campaign dubbed #NotAMartyr was launched and quickly went viral, receiving over 500 contributions in its first week alone, according to organizers. On New Year’s Eve, the group went a step further and organized the ‘Not A Martyr Vigil’ near the site of the deadly blast.

The campaign attracted huge media attention, with articles on CNN, NBC, BBC, BuzzFeed and in the NY Daily News.

After the initial swell of positive feedback, some critics argued in an an episode of Al-Jazeera’s The Stream that the movement was nothing more than online "slacktivism." While the dust over all this buzz begins to settle, we want to know if #NotaMartyr is just a passing fad, or a movement that's here to stay. sat down with the organizers to find out. Take a look:

(Photo via Imgur) Can you tell us a bit more about the people behind the hashtag?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: The people "behind it," if you could say that, were a group of Lebanese people reacting to the shock of Mohammad Chaar's death. They were moved by the need to remove the label that was immediately slapped onto his image: "martyr." It’s interesting that, for a campaign based on sharing selfies, which are personal and intimate, the team who came up with the idea isn’t revealing the identities of its members. Was this a conscious decision?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: It definitely was because we were concerned that people's attention would be too focused on who was doing it, rather on what we are trying to say. In Lebanon, everything gets categorized: politically, socially, economically... The group felt that keeping our personal identities from the public was the wisest choice. But you should note that the group did post selfies, just not as organizers or anything like that. For many people in Lebanon, the notion of martyrdom is imbued with honor. Why was it so important for you to differentiate between ‘martyr’ and ‘victim’?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: This gets to the very heart of what the group was trying to say. Our problem is not with martyrdom, so much as the way the word is used almost as a justification. A person dies needlessly, and when you label that person a martyr, the injustice and misery of the incident is eased, in a way. This allows a population to normalize something as insane as dying just because you took a walk. It starts to normalize the feeling that people in Lebanon are just sitting ducks. But when you use the word ‘victim,’ it sticks in your head as something that can't be accepted. Was this successfully communicated, in your opinion?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: I think the message did get across, since a lot of people have actually begun appropriating it. I've been hearing and reading this idea on blogs and on TV even. I think the major function of the campaign was to get people to remember this basic fact, and in that, it succeeded - certainly. There are also religious undertones to the notion of ‘martyrdom.’ Have you received any complaints from people who were offended by the campaign's focus on that level?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: No, I don't think anyone has misunderstood the campaign as an assault on religious doctrine.

(Photo via Facebook) Critics have complained that this campaign isn’t “real activism,” a nod to critiques of ‘slacktivism’ voiced in recent years. How do you respond?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: I think that criticism misses the point and also, in my opinion, portrays an ugly nihilism. It's so easy to dismiss everything that people do online; but in a country where options are extremely limited, I think that the rules change somehow. The page gathered together an (albeit limited) community of Lebanese. I don't see that happening anywhere else, sadly. The idea behind #NotAMartyr was not to overthrow the government or lead to any institutional change in Lebanon - that just was not the point. It was a way to raise awareness among a population that has totally lost any sense of its own values. And this wasn't just a therapeutic thing either. I think sometimes a population needs a wake up call, and this one came. You say that this community of Lebanese people that gathered around your message was “limited.” How representative do you think the response has been?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: Not very, but it's a start. The message was quickly picked up by television networks both in and out of Lebanon; and there you have the bulk of everyone else in Lebanon. That helped. But yeah, the page itself, with its 9,000 'likes' or so, is quite small, even in a country of four million. Is there any segment of the population in particular that you'd like to reach?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: Not in particular, but people in the group were pleasantly surprised by the support they got from the parents' of those who have been sent to fight in Syria in the name of Hezbollah. This was striking, because it highlighted the universal nature of the call: everyone is capable of joining #NotAMartyr, regardless of sect, race, creed or taste in music. How do you respond to critics who have highlighted the predominance of English contributions?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: That's just not true. It only appears to be the case since the campaign was largely covered by English-speaking media around the world; they selected the English selfies. The page itself is equally divided. There are even some in Greek and I think one in Italian, but I'm not sure. Also, the group posts everything in both languages. What are the basic themes that emerged in these contributions?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: A large number of posts were related to questions of security, safety, and personal mobility. This was natural given the fact that the campaign was in response to an explosion. Many people were also expressing their desires for political and sectarian change.

(Photo via Imgur) And finally, what next for #NotAMartyr?

#NotaMartyr Campaign: Well currently we are trying to spur dialogue by posting a selfie for discussion each week. The first week was a bit slow, as people had to get used to the process. Last week there was an explosion, and we decided that it would be better to skip it. The second one went up on January 28, and we are inviting people to blog, write, speak and dialogue about it. We want to get the discussion going and that means unilateral selfies aren't enough to start thinking about the serious issues.

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