Georges Zreik and the private school of Bkeftin in Koura incident

Jo

Jo

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In short, Georges Zreik (RIP) couldn't pay the fees for his daughter education anymore (he has been struggling since 2015 it seems). He asked the school for her transcripts so he could enroll her in a more affordable public school - The school refused.

Georges was a taxi driver and most probably he was desperate and couldn't find any other way to provide for his family.

Article here:

Father dies after setting himself on fire over school payments



BKEFTIN/RAS MASQA/BEIRUT: The day before he died, George Zreik drove his taxi to the school where his young daughter was enrolled, walked onto the grass of its courtyard, poured gasoline over his body and set himself ablaze.

After struggling to pay fees for his daughter’s private elementary school in the small town of Bkeftin in Koura, Zreik Thursday morning asked its administration to provide him with her transcripts so he could enroll her in a more affordable public school.

According to Zreik’s brother, Shukri, the school director refused, even after Zreik promised to sign a document ensuring he would eventually pay back all he owed. The two then got into an argument, and Zreik swore he would self-immolate in front of the school if his demand was not met.

Shortly after, at around 10 a.m., he did.

Zreik’s daughter had not been at school that day, Shukri said, and his teenage son went to a different school.

After onlookers extinguished the fire, Zreik, still alive, was taken to Tripoli’s Al-Salam Hospital. Gabriel Sabeh, the hospital director, said Zreik had sustained burns on 90 percent of his body - everywhere except his feet, because of his shoes. Sabeh showed The Daily Star an image of Zreik, covered in ashen-white powder, pieces of skin hanging off his body. “The fire even went inside his throat and scorched his lungs. It’s true he lived, but his situation was worse than horrible,” the doctor said. “Nobody survives with 90 percent burns.

Sabeh said Zreik had consumed 23 liters of IV fluid during the roughly 22 hours he was at the hospital, in order to cope with the massive inflammation of his body. They had also provided him with morphine to ease the pain. “In the end, God had mercy on him and relieved him quickly, at 9 a.m. We knew if he didn’t die today, it would have been tomorrow or the day after.”

The Internal Security Forces was able to obtain a statement form Zreik while he was at the hospital. A security source told The Daily Star earlier Friday that Zreik had set himself on fire to protest the elementary school’s decision and his difficult financial situation.

The school, Bkeftin Orthodox College, issued a statement mourning the “painful incident” that led to Zreik’s death, and said it had been waving Zreik’s payment of tuition fees since 2015 in sympathy with his financial situation. However, it said he still had to pay transportation, registration and other fees.

But Shukri said that his brother had indeed been paying tuition fees, in installments, some of which he had admittedly missed. Bkeftin Mayor George Shawbah told The Daily Star that Orthodox Metropolitan Ephrem Kyriakos had given clear orders to the school to be compassionate and not to focus on profit. While he regretted Zreik’s death, Shawbah claimed the school was being cast in an unjust light.

A source close to Kyriakos told The Daily Star the church was not involved in daily management at the school, but it did have input in the hiring of the school's director.

The source also corroborated that the school had been paying all of Zreik’s daughters’ tuition.

The school’s statement denied claims that it had threatened to expel Zreik’s daughter if he didn’t pay.

However, the school also shared with The Daily Star a letter it sent to Zreik that said his daughter would no longer be welcome at the school as of Tuesday, Feb. 5, if he did not accompany her. The letter also listed the occasions the school had requested Zreik to appear to settle the fees. School officials declined to comment beyond the statements they provided.

“We’re devastated, but we are not embarrassed by what happened,” Shukri said. “We want everyone to know: The responsibility is on the school and its director.

“My brother was just trying to get by, like anyone else in this country. They didn’t respond to any of his demands and he couldn’t handle it anymore, so he did what he did.”

Education Minister Akram Chehayeb has ordered an investigation into the issue, a statement from the ministry said. It also noted he would “take care of the education of [George Zreik’s] children and provide the necessary scholarships for them.”

A source at the ministry told The Daily Star that Zreik had not approached the ministry for assistance and that it had not been aware of his situation.

The ministry source said that those seeking to transfer their children from a private school to a public one can ask the ministry for help in securing the necessary paperwork if the school refuses to provide it.

Several politicians have commented on the case. Kataeb MP Nadim Gemayel tweeted: “George Zreik is new conclusive evidence of the unprecedented level of despair which Lebanese people have reached.”

Marada Movement MP Tony Frangieh said Lebanon should “wake up before the whole country burns alive.”

From the steps of the church where condolences were being accepted in Zreik’s hometown of Ras Masqa, Jean Fayad, Zreik’s cousin, compared his relative’s death to the 2011 self-immolation of Mohammad Bouazizi in Tunisia.

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Joumblatt also made the comparison in a tweet. Bouazizi’s fatal act sparked the 2011 Tunisian revolution and is credited as the opening act of the Arab Spring.

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  • SeaAb

    SeaAb

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    "لِتَكُنْ سِيرَتُكُمْ خَالِيَةً مِنْ مَحَبَّةِ الْمَالِ. كُونُوا مُكْتَفِينَ بِمَا عِنْدَكُمْ..." (من رسالة بولس الرسول الى العبرانيين 5:13) كل عيد #مار_مارون وابناؤكم وابناء #جورج_زريق بخير
     
    IsaBells

    IsaBells

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    I feel so bad for his children who now have to grow up without a father! I hope his case gives a push for a reform of the public education sector. That should be the number one priority for the ministry of education not when and if kids should have a day off!
     
    Resign

    Resign

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    I feel sorry for the daughter because of the amount of guilt she's forced to live with.
    Would late Mr George accept his father killing himself in such manner because of him?
     
    AtheistForJesus

    AtheistForJesus

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    I feel so bad for his children who now have to grow up without a father! I hope his case gives a push for a reform of the public education sector. That should be the number one priority for the ministry of education not when and if kids should have a day off!
    It should give a push for affordable mental health care.
    No sane person would set himself ablaze to protest financial situation.
     
    Lebanese Pride

    Lebanese Pride

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    It should give a push for affordable mental health care.
    No sane person would set himself ablaze to protest financial situation.
    I agree, something else is definetely wrong.

    None of us are living in a perfect financial situation we dont go around burning ourself to death, what if the fire spread and he killed other people or even children? Thats not even mentioning the emotional toll this will leave on the children of that school wh o had to see some burn himself to death.
     
    IsaBells

    IsaBells

    All the jingle ladies, put your hands up!
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    It should give a push for affordable mental health care.
    No sane person would set himself ablaze to protest financial situation.
    Yeah that too, he literally picked the worst option he could have. Granted I don't know what it feels like to be in his place, but I do know what it feels like to have a daughter, and I want to be there for her at least until she can be there for herself.

    However, his case does highlight the financial situation of a lot of parents, our public education sector is in complete shambles and is in dire need of a reform. Teachers who don't care, don't teach but still get paid, overcrowded classes, an education that is subpar even when available and a number of schools that is not sufficient for the population especially highlighted with the Syrian refugees. So parents have three options: put their children in private schools and pay tooth and nail for their education, live next to a private school that is free, or put their children in public schools and hope they can teach themselves because that is literally what they will have to do!
     
    The_FPMer

    The_FPMer

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    "لِتَكُنْ سِيرَتُكُمْ خَالِيَةً مِنْ مَحَبَّةِ الْمَالِ. كُونُوا مُكْتَفِينَ بِمَا عِنْدَكُمْ..." (من رسالة بولس الرسول الى العبرانيين 5:13) كل عيد #مار_مارون وابناؤكم وابناء #جورج_زريق بخير
    These pictures disgust me. Inno you want a comfortable ride and sizeable legroom buy a Toyota Camry! Costs 35 000$ instead of 130 000 and is much more reliable and lasts for decades. It's like they don't care anymore!
     
    AtheistForJesus

    AtheistForJesus

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    These pictures disgust me. Inno you want a comfortable ride and sizeable legroom buy a Toyota Camry! Costs 35 000$ instead of 130 000 and is much more reliable and lasts for decades. It's like they don't care anymore!
    As long as they're not stealing the money, they're entitled to all the luxuries they desire.
    I don't see how one's possession of a luxury car contributes to someone else' misery.
    That's very communist.

    Being a clergyman is just like any other job. Taking a vow of poverty is stupid in my opinion.
    Did Pope Francis help solve Africa's hunger problems by eschewing extravagance?
     
    Last edited:
    The_FPMer

    The_FPMer

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    As long as they're not stealing the money, they're entitled to all the luxuries they desire.
    I don't see how one's possession of a luxury contributes to someone else' misery.
    That's very communist.

    Being a clergyman is just like any other job. Taking a vow of poverty is stupid in my opinion.
    Did Pope Francis help solve Africa's hunger problems by eschewing extravagance?
    Christian clergy don't get paid from the Lebanese state unlike their Muslim counterparts. Most of the money is from the people. Your arguments are always repeated by priests when asked about this, the point I'm making isn't that they should drive a 1980s Renault 5 but a new Toyota Camry instead of a 130 000 luxury executive car! Money has to be managed in a more productive and efficient manner. This 100 000 on each car can make a load of difference in every parish.
     
    AtheistForJesus

    AtheistForJesus

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    Christian clergy don't get paid from the Lebanese state unlike their Muslim counterparts. Most of the money is from the people. Your arguments are always repeated by priests when asked about this, the point I'm making isn't that they should drive a 1980s Renault 5 but a new Toyota Camry instead of a 130 000 luxury executive car! Money has to be managed in a more productive and efficient manner. This 100 000 on each car can make a load of difference in every parish.
    As long as Christians don't mind paying $5,000-$10,000 to have a church wedding, sa7tein 3a albon lal clergymen :)
    Law doesn't protect the fools.
     
    Dark Angel

    Dark Angel

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    "لِتَكُنْ سِيرَتُكُمْ خَالِيَةً مِنْ مَحَبَّةِ الْمَالِ. كُونُوا مُكْتَفِينَ بِمَا عِنْدَكُمْ..." (من رسالة بولس الرسول الى العبرانيين 5:13) كل عيد #مار_مارون وابناؤكم وابناء #جورج_زريق بخير
    this guy still has 4 months in active duty before he is retired and replaced. he is a screaming exception. that vehicle was actually bought the same week pope Francis issued a call for the bishops around the world to live a very simple life and drive the simplest of cars in accordance with the bible.

    meshe el 7al, few more months and he will be replaced by someone better.
     
    The_FPMer

    The_FPMer

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    As long as Christians don't mind paying $5,000-$10,000 to have a church wedding, sa7tein 3a albon lal clergymen :)
    Law doesn't protect the fools.
    Shou 5ass hay bi hay. Your hatred is clogging your mind. Clergy have a responsibility towards the people.
     
    SeaAb

    SeaAb

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    this guy still has 4 months in active duty before he is retired and replaced. he is a screaming exception. that vehicle was actually bought the same week pope Francis issued a call for the bishops around the world to live a very simple life and drive the simplest of cars in accordance with the bible.

    meshe el 7al, few more months and he will be replaced by someone better.
    3refto min siyyarto? Who is he?
     
    The_FPMer

    The_FPMer

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    this guy still has 4 months in active duty before he is retired and replaced. he is a screaming exception. that vehicle was actually bought the same week pope Francis issued a call for the bishops around the world to live a very simple life and drive the simplest of cars in accordance with the bible.

    meshe el 7al, few more months and he will be replaced by someone better.
    Are you sure Boulos Matar is an exception?
     
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