5 Jan 2015

Shock As Lebanese Student at US University Comes Second In His Class

Lebanon awoke in a state of shock today to the news that a Lebanese student at a US university has come second in his class. The small Mediterranean country is reeling from the revelation, particularly as every Lebanese student at a US or European university has topped his or her class since 1953 when official records began.

The mother of the unfortunate student spoke of her ordeal, lamenting this major setback to the country’s self-image and standing in the world. “I could not look my neighbors in the eye; I was shattered by this news. I don’t understand how this could have happened.” The mother was in tears as she spoke of her shame and guilt.

“The other mothers were having morning coffee at my house. Mathilda’s son Zuhair is the number one rocket scientist at NASA, that’s his official title. Randa’s son is the top computer programator at the Google, and Hala’s little son came first in his university and Obama called him personally to get him to agree to work for a secret government program. And I was so ashamed to tell them that Bassem came only second.”

An expert in Lebanese culture we contacted informed us that it is very important for Lebanese people to come first in what they do abroad, for reasons that are not very well understood outside the country. It is also important for Lebanon to come first in online polls and competitions, and Lebanese people will organize massive campaigns to vote in these polls. The country was recently jubilant as a Lebanese porn star came first in Porn Hub rankings.

The student, 21 year old Bassem Imad, is majoring in Economics at Harvard University and is understood to be an excellent student. However he is now being widely criticized in Lebanon and has had to close down his Facebook account because of the negative comments he was getting. Many Lebanese people are also frustrated because they are unable to work out Bassem’s religion from his name, and blame his entire sect for his failure as we understand is the custom in Lebanon.

Prominent Lebanese politicians have come to Bassem’s defense however, blaming pro-Israel professors at Harvard for favoring other students over him in order to tarnish Lebanon’s image abroad. But others have questioned whether Bassem and his family are really Lebanese, suggesting that they might be from Syrian or Palestinian origin, which would explain his failure in their opinion.

Independent education experts made statements questioning the Lebanese statistics about Lebanese students abroad always coming first. A spokesman said that it is not uncommon for mothers in some cultures to exaggerate their children’s achievements, but these claims were rejected unanimously by Lebanese sources, warning of ‘familiar attempts by secret fingers to undermine Lebanon’s reputation’.

It is noted that prominent Lebanese fortuneteller Leila Abdel Latif had suggested something like this might happen in her end of year predictions when she said ‘I see the number 2 next to a burning Lebanese flag. This is not good.’

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Karl reMarks is a blog about Middle East politics and culture with a healthy dose of satire.

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