Lebanese speak to the ‘Post’ about their divisions

Printed in the Jerusalem Post on February 15, 2008. First time vox-pops from Lebanon appeared at the Post in quite a while…

On a day on which two large gatherings [Imad Mugniyeh’s funeral and the Rafiq Hariri memorial – DR] highlighted the divisions in Lebanese society, many Beirut residents stayed at home, voicing their disillusionment and frustration with Lebanon’s ongoing crisis.

“I went to the [Hariri] rally last year, and I participated in the Cedar Revolution,” an architect told the The Jerusalem Post. “I thought that this way my country can be truly free. But now it’s politics of division, not diversity.

“My Lebanon is the Lebanon of culture, of investment, a place of dialogue between East and West – a Lebanon of freedom. When you’re walking in Beirut, you can go to one street and hear English, take another street where they speak Arabic, and get to a street where everyone speaks French. This is what I love about my country. Instead we get this 14th of March [Alliance] to 8th of March rift. One side is sponsored by the Saudis, the other is sponsored by Iran. Where is Lebanon in all of this?” the architect asked.

The March 14 was the date of Lebanon’s 2005 Cedar Revolution, which attempted to overthrow Syria’s presence in Lebanon, while the 8th of March Power is a name for the pro-Syrian coalition in the Lebanese parliament.

Asked about the possibility of widespread violence erupting once again, a Lebanese journalist said: “It is already cold civil war. Perhaps we never went out of the old one, and the Syrian occupation was just an anesthesia. “We released the old demons without having been able to reform our political system.”

“I am not concerned about any of them, none of them represent the true Lebanese will,” said another Lebanese journalist. “I don’t understand what freedom the 14th of March Movement is talking about, when all of them are servants of the Hariri family, themselves servants of the Saudis.

“And the 8th of March Power, even if they do have real popular demands, are still too close to the Syrian regime. Where is the real Lebanese voice between these two? Absent. Better to stay home and catch up on some deadlines,” she said.

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