Time and time again, the people of Lebanon are wronged by their government. Sometimes it’s corrupt politics, sometimes it’s ridiculous moral standards and sometimes it’s just plain ignorance. Among those who have had unjustified or unnecessary run-ins with the law are minor celebrities, people who are in the public eye, but remain more-or-less obscure to the nation as a whole and semi-unknown overseas.

In a strange turn of events and a heavy dose of karma, many such individuals find themselves in the limelight during and after these incidents. I’m not saying going through this is all sunshine and rainbows, but you’ve got to admit, getting into trouble for no good reason is one hell of a career boost. Government incompetence is Lebanon’s most powerful and reliable publicity machine.

Here are just four examples of Lebanese individuals who got into a little trouble but came out with a lot of buzz:

Zeid Hamdan

(Photo via Emaho Magazine)

Zeid Hamdan is a true veteran of Beirut’s underground music scene, having been involved in it since the late 90s with the group SoapKills, followed by numerous ventures such as The New Government, his work with Egyptian singer Maryam Saleh and his current band, Zeid and The Wings. However, in July 2011, things got a little nasty.

A year prior, Hamdan had released a music video for the song General Suleyman, which features Lebanese President Michel Suleiman as a subject. The video was directed by Italian director Gigi Roccati, who later mailed a copy of the video on a DVD to a Lebanese advertising agency, but not before a customs officer viewed it and deemed the final line unacceptable: “General, go home”.

Hamdan was later called in for interrogation several times and ultimately arrested on July 27. Through massive support from his friends and fanbase, he was released later that same day. In the ensuing aftermath, the song was introduced to a whole new audience who had no idea it even existed and word of Hamdan’s ordeal was spread far and wide.

Semaan Khawam

(Photo via Facebook)

Artist and poet Semaan Khawam has long enjoyed success in Beirut’s art scene, being exhibited at such establishments as Galerie Janine Rubeiz, Joanna Seikaly Art Gallery and the Nada Debs Gallery. In addition to his paintings and mixed media works, Khawam is also a graffiti artist whose stenciled pieces can be seen in various spots throughout the city.

Khawam’s stencils are provocative and politically critical, but one in particular caught the eye of government officials. In September 2011, Khawam was spray-painting a piece in Karantina which depicted a soldier as part of a series on the Lebanese civil war, when two military officials approached him and began to question him, eventually leading to his arrest. He was taken to a police station and made to sign a statement promising not to do any more graffiti.

But Khawam attempted to spray his message once again, only to be apprehended once more, and eventually summoned to court where he was fined and arrested in February 2012. After much social media commotion and media coverage, Semaan was finally acquitted in June 2012, having been given a whole new platform to make his bold statements in the process.

Double A the Preacherman

(Photo via Facebook)
Hussein Sharafeddine, better known by his stage name, Double A the Preacherman is a Lebanese MC and vocalist from Saida who regularly freestyles at events throughout the city, most notably Radio Beirut’s Hip Hop Mondays, which he hosts, as well as being frontman of funk-soul band The Banana Cognacs.

In late January 2014, Double A went down to Haret Hreik to visit a mechanic, when he was suddenly apprehended by military officials at a checkpoint. A photo of him being escorted by soldiers went viral immediately after, and it was soon revealed that the rapper had been arrested under suspicion of being a suicide bomber. Friends and supporters were quick to take to social media networks and began campaigning for his release.

After having his jeep searched with no evidence turning up, and an overnight stay in prison, Double A was free to go the following day. During his brief incarceration, Double A’s ordeal was heavily publicized and covered by the media, which included clips of him performing as evidence of his innocence being broadcast nationwide, as well getting the chance to appear on television after the fact. For a guy who doesn’t have an official page or anything, that’s not too bad.

Jackie Chamoun

(Photo via Facebook)

This one’s taking place as we speak! You know the story, but just in case you have short term memory loss: In six-time Mexican Olympic skier Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe’s Ski Instructors calendar, published in 2013, Alpine Skier Jackie Chamoun appears topless on the snowy slopes of Faraya .

Despite making it to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, alongside fellow Lebanese Alpine Skier Alex Mohbat, she was panned by television network Al Jadeed for her topless shoot fearing she might jeapordize Lebanon’s “spotless reputation”. However, the controversy has done nothing more but spark support for her in the Olympics and initiate dialogue on morals, priorities and hypocrisy.

What many are not aware of is that though the shoot in question took place in Faraya, Chamoun currently resides in Geneva, Switzerland. She may never get to experience a “hero’s welcome” and do the talk show and magazine cover circuit, but these 15 minutes of fame are hers to bask in, and hopefully her, and others on this list, will be remembered more for their contributions to Lebanese society, than for being wronged by it.

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