BEIRUT: Tourism Minister Fadi Abboud issued another warning over racism at the country’s beach clubs Thursday after a video showing 10 different clubs telling a caller that migrant domestic workers would not be allowed to swim in their pools was uploaded to YouTube by an activist group.
The video was the second in a series made by the Anti-Racism Movement after it filmed the St. George beach club refusing entrance to an Ethiopian woman last month, insisting she needed membership despite giving entrance to a Lebanese man immediately after.
“I will take action against each and every club,” Abboud told The Daily Star. “I will ask [the tourism police] now to check, and if the names of the clubs are there [on the video], tomorrow the tourist police will be there. What they are doing is illegal.”
A circular was issued to all beach clubs by the Tourism Ministry in April, informing them that “equal treatment is to be provided to all customers without discrimination based on race, nationality or disability,” and that “suitable legal measures” would be taken against violations.
When asked why such incidents were continuing despite the law, Abboud said the beach clubs felt they operated within a culture of impunity.
“People think that nobody is going to do anything about it,” he said. “They have been doing it for years and getting away with it.”
He said that he had issued another letter to beach clubs following the incident at St. George reminding them of the law.
“I wrote another letter to all of them going into detail, saying that if you claim to be a private club we will go and see that every person in there is a member,” he said. “I have been asking the tourism police to go there and make them sign to say that they have received the communiqué.”
Abboud also said that the decision of the judge in such cases would be crucial in influencing beach clubs’ behavior.
Fines for breaches of the circular could range from LL50,000 to LL3 million, according to the minister.
“You also [need to] keep an eye on what the judge is going to rule. If it’s going to be LL100,000 then they will keep doing it, if it’s millions, then maybe they will stop,” he said.
He urged people to report incidents to the tourism police hotline: 1735.