By: Ashley Zepeda
Rewa Zakharia is one of the newest attorneys to join the Fayette County Office of the Commonwealth Attorney. I was very excited to get the chance to speak with her after hearing that she was originally from Lebanon because I’m an International Studies major focusing on human rights and population movements in Africa and the Middle East.
Lebanon is located in West Asia, centered between Syria and Israel. Given it’s close proximity, I assumed that the current status of Lebanon would be very similar to that of Syria and many other Middle Eastern countries; that stigma that we who have grown up in Western culture too readily associate with political unrest, religious extremists, and a lack of women’s rights. That unwarranted stereotype however couldn’t have been further from the truth.
Rewa affectionately recalled the years she spent in Lebanon, telling me how beautiful the country was and how diverse the people were. Lebanon is actually a major tourist destination, regarded as “The Paris of the Middle East”. It is also very demographically different from most Middle Eastern countries. While Islam is the dominant religion there are a multitude of others, including Christianity, which accounts for 40% of the population.
Lebanon has been a feature in the news as of late, given its association with the Syrian Crisis, but that is hardly a representation of Lebanon as whole. Talking with Rewa helped me realize how inaccurate Western stereotypes can be as well as motivate me to learn more about current events to develop my own opinions rather than adopt whatever the media is portraying.