The Lebanese police are celebrating their 153rd anniversary. At a commemoration event, the head of the force pledged officers would continue to serve all citizens and be ‘above’ sectarian and political divides.

But will they also be above the law? These banners thanking the police for their “service and sacrifice” were posted on the coastal highway, blocking major traffic signs. The banners are sponsored by local municipalities as indicated in small print below.

Yes being a police officer in Lebanon is not easy and many probably do work tirelessly, sweating profusely at intersections and enduring insults of thuggish citizens while trying to direct traffic. At the same time, there are also many accounts of torture and abuse. And many instances of flouting laws, such as blaring sirens for no reason but to get through traffic. The idea that municipalities can also flout the law to curry favor with the force (or other political parties) is a metaphor for the everyday lawlessness police so often either willingly tolerate or are too intimidated to crack down upon.

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