Its been almost a week, what more can I add. What a horrific thing for so many families to have to go through, especially when grieving and politics are forced to mix.
Some of the most interesting round ups/analysis pieces might be found on my department’s blog, here, and here. Indeed, as Rami Khouri at AUB wrote: “Top-level assassinations and instant street clashes that would shatter most other countries are taken in stride by most Lebanese, who stay home for 36 hours and then resume their normal lives”. This wasn’t some glib answer either, thats pretty much exactly what has happened.
I decided to avoid Wissam al-Hassan’s funeral. Without proper press credentials, and no local friends who wanted to go, it seemed like to get to push to the ‘thick of the action’, in defiance of embassy warnings, might be a little voyeuristic and reckless. Perhaps I am just a wussy journalist.
Accounts from those who were at there on Sunday initially focussed upon the smaller then expected turnout, although things of course got more serious as a small but significant crowd attempted to storm parliament; before – again small but significant – numbers of people set up roadblocks and engaged in inter-communal or anti-government skirmishes in several districts of Beirut, and other key roads across the country. With Israeli jets then performing gratuitous mock raids over Sidon and yet more tales of horror from both (assuming only 2…) sides in Syria the narrative was compelling, but a return to the levels of strife seen in 2006-2008, let alone the earlier civil war, seems in too few people’s interest at this moment.
As a result, I don’t wish to add much more to this simple summary of events. Back in Hamra, the juiciest we got was some low level tyre-burning – a must for all Lebanese protestors this season and a great source of humour in less serious times – and the sounds of some gunshots fired in the air by police. In general the streets were quiet, but hardly eerily so. On the way to visit friends, the guards outside the Hariri house were a little more aggressive than usual, but still sanguine enough. They refused to let a fire truck past their barricade, which led to a minor drama as fireman ran on foot to extinguish an apartment blaze, which thankfully they managed successfully. Saad Hariri’s portrait is now joined by that of Wissam al-Hassan in the pro-March 14 businesses.
No-one Lebanese I have talked to (admittedly not the most perfect cross-section of society) has really brought this up in conversation, with life beyond Tuesday on the university campus and across the city carrying on as before. After reading in a guidebook that “the Lebanese are always happy to talk endlessly about politics to visitors”, I was expecting people to be a little chattier about things. To be sure, everyone has an opinion, but after some brief catharsis the ball may well have been left in murderer’s court. Whether the murderers were acting on behalf of the Syrian regime, or Iran, Israel, Hezbollah, Michelin, or Firestone; we may well just be waiting to see if they are cowardly enough to test the Lebanese people’s restraint again.
Low Point: ….
A Highlight: Way over 1,000 views now, so thanks alot for reading
Sweeping Orientalist Statement: Conflict in syria, the longer it continues, will inevitably be spread to bordering nations (please prove me wrong)
Beautiful Lebanese Women Forecast: Will return next time