Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Lebanon postpones vote yet again

Lebanese members of parliament have postponed for an eighth time their vote to elect a new president, with 17 December called as the new date.

The pro-West ruling bloc and pro-Syrian opposition have agreed on army chief Gen Michel Suleiman, but are divided on the make-up of the new government.

There is also said to be a dispute over how to amend the constitution to allow a senior civil servant to be elected.

The deadlock meant Emile Lahoud stepped down last month without a successor.

Under Article 49 of the current constitution, senior civil servants like Gen Suleiman are barred from becoming president within two years of stepping down.


Under Lebanon's sectarian power-sharing system, the country's president must be from the Maronite Christian minority, while the prime minister must be a Sunni Muslim and the president of parliament a Shia.

Gen Suleiman, who is a Maronite, left a meeting with the Maronite Patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Sfeir, on Monday without making any comment.

The deadlock over the president is Lebanon's worst political crisis since the country's long civil war ended in 1990.

The economy and parliament have been crippled, and the opposition have refused to recognise the government.

Correspondents say Gen Suleiman has remained neutral amid feuding between the government and opposition, and has repeatedly called for the army to be kept out of politics.

The governing coalition needs a two-thirds majority to elect the president, or 86 of the 128 MPs, but holds only 68 seats

Published: 2007/12/10 23:57:28 GMT


Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Kouchner Back In Beirut to Help Settle Presidential Crisis

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner returned to Beirut Tuesday in a fresh bid to spur feuding political leaders into electing a new president and ending a year-long political crisis.
Kouchner held talks talks with Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri for one hour and left without making any statement to reporters. He also discussed with al-Moustaqbal Movement leader Saad Hariri "efforts exerted to hold the presidemtial elections," according to a statement released by the Hariri Press office.

The French official also met Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun in Rabye, according to the National News agency.

Kouchner's visit comes ahead of a parliament session on Friday for lawmakers to elect a new head of state to replace Emile Lahoud, the former pro-Syrian president who stepped down at midnight on November 23 at the end of his term.

But there was wide speculation that the session -- the seventh since September -- would once again be delayed amid lingering disputes between the ruling majority and the pro-Syrian opposition.

France, Lebanon's former colonial power, has been leading international efforts to end a political crisis that emerged a year ago when six opposition ministers quit Saniora's government, plunging the country into disarray.

Kouchner's visit is the seventh by the French official to Lebanon in six months and comes as negotiations among Beirut's feuding politicians have homed in on the army chief, General Michel Suleiman, to succeed Lahoud.

The general was formally endorsed by the ruling majority on Sunday while the Aoun-led opposition has not made a firm commitment.

Aoun, himself a former army chief, said he would back Suleiman for the top job only if he held the office until legislative election in 2009, instead of the full six-year term stipulated by the constitution.

In any case, Suleiman's election requires a change to the constitution as Article 49 bars public servants from assuming the presidency within two years of stepping down from their posts.

Six sessions in parliament to elect a successor to Lahoud have already been postponed because of the bickering between the parties.

"Friday's presidential election is at the mercy of the political bazaar," the French-language L'Orient Le Jour, which is close to the ruling majority, said in a banner headline on Tuesday.

The pro-opposition daily Al-Akhbar also expected Friday's vote to be postponed. "The presidential election is once again facing complications despite the agreement between the opposition and majority on Suleiman," the daily said.(Naharnet-AFP)

Beirut, 04 Dec 07, 18:13

"a viewpoint that remains personal"

Hizbullah's Mohammed Raad: No to a Constitutional Amendment by Saniora Government
By Dalia Nehme
The head of Hizbullah's parliamentary bloc MP Mohammed Raad said Wednesday Prime Minister Fouad Saniora's majority government does not have the authority to propose a constitutional amendment allowing the election of Army Commander Gen. Michel Suleiman president.

Noting that he is voicing "a viewpoint that remains personal," Raad told Naharnet: "To me, at the personal level, I believe a constitutional amendment in parliament is possible after resignation of Fouad Saniora from the government which is neither constitutional nor legitimate."

"Parliament cannot meet with a non-constitutional government. I am not making a proposal, but expressing a view point that remains personal."

However, Raad stressed that "we will not block any consensus possibility if the intro to it is a constitutional amendment, provided that all opposition factions have agreed on it."

In answering a question as to whether the Hizbullah parliamentary bloc will attend a session to amend the constitution, Raad said: "We believe that any constitutional amendment will be fabrication based on tacit approval by both the pro-government factions and the opposition due to an extraordinary and very important matter."

"This issue should be discussed in detail by the opposition," he added.

What would your stand be if amending the constitution to elect Gen. Suleiman is the only salvation solution? Raad was asked.

He replied: "In fact, this issue needs to be judged to realize its seriousness in the candidate-proposing formula, and to know if the other side considers it the salvation solution."

He recalled that Saniora had "pledged to chop off his hand before signing a constitutional amendment decree. If he is ready now to chop off his hand lets discuss this issue," Raad added.

"We see no seriousness in tackling this issue, some (factions) are trying to maneuver by throwing the ball into the other side's court."

Raad said Gen. Suleiman "knows well our stand regarding him, we explained our stand to him in details a long time ago. And when nominating him is proposed seriously we'll discuss the topic."

He asked "why wasn't (suleiman's nomination) in the basked on candidates. Is constitutional amendment possible now, from a constitutional point of view? And who amends the constitution now? A non-constitutional government, and a parliament that doesn't meet with this non-constitutional government? This issue requires a discussion."

In answering a question as to whether nominating Gen. Suleiman could be proposed as a salvation exit out of the ongoing political crisis, Raad replied:

"If the opposition adopted this view point, then why not. But the opposition might not adopt this view point … This issue requires a decision. But this government is neither legal nor constitutional, how can it be entrusted with a constitutional amendment … in the first place it does not exist as far as we are concerned. Amending the constitution requires a two-thirds vote by a legal government so that a decree can be referred to parliament.

"Parliament does not accept illegitimate decrees by the illegitimate government."

Raad concluded by asking: "does the extraordinary situation prevailing over the country require us to surmount all these issues and the constitutional mechanism to amend the constitution?"

"I don't know, though I find it to be difficult," he replied.

Raad said Hizbullah's presidential candidate is Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun "or whoever is chosen by Gen. Aoun."

"It will be difficult to agree on any candidate of whom Gen. Aoun is not convinced," Raad added, stressing that Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri "realizes this."

He said "pressure cards" of the majority have "faded away and collapsed. The pro-government team would find itself obliged to seriously accept a compromise."

Raad said any protest organized by Aoun would be coordinated with all the opposition factions, noting that the people are "suffering from economic hardships and the increase in prices of basic commodities."

"This requires serious and thorough handling that can only be available through intact rule," Raad added.

He accused the United States of aborting a French initiative to elect a consensus president before Nov. 23 when former President Emile Lahoud's extended term in office expired.

Syria, he said, "played a positive role and did not interfere in naming candidates and supported consensus on a candidate."

Raad warned that electing a president by simple majority, an option that the majority had pledged to resort to, "would open the door to chaos in the country."

The majority, Raad added, "can maintain this option for as long as they want, but can they practice it?"

Hizbullah, he said, wants a president who enjoys "Christian popularity and who strongly believes in Lebanon's strength and would be ready to maintain the national balance."

Raad said the peace conference hosted by U.S. President George Bush at Annapolis gave nothing to the Palestinians and the Arabs, while Israel was labeled a Jewish state and the Israelis did not make a commitment to halt the building of settlements or the "wall of isolation."

Israel, he said, "insisted on dealing with the Palestinian Authority through the road map, the starting phase of which insists on starting a Palestinian civil war through what the Israelis term ending terrorist operations."

The Arabs who took part in the meeting went to Annapolis "empty handed and proposed the Arab (peace) initiative that the Israeli enemy did not even accept to discuss."

Beirut, 28 Nov 07, 17:28

Iraqis 'left to rot' in Lebanon

A human rights watchdog has sharply criticised Lebanon's attitude to Iraqi refugees who do not have valid visas.

New York-based Human Rights Watch says hundreds of Iraqi refugees face the prospect of "rotting in jail" unless they agree to return home.

About 50,000 Iraqis are thought to have fled violence and instability in Iraq to the relative safety of Lebanon.

HRW says at least 500 Iraqi refugees are in jail in Lebanon and 150 were expelled in the first half of 2007.

Its report Rot Here or Die There: Bleak Choices for Iraqi Refugees in Lebanon urges the authorities to ease restrictions on Iraqis and grant them temporary legal status.

"By giving Iraqi refugees no option but to stay in jail indefinitely or return to Iraq, Lebanon is violating the bedrock principle of international law," said HRW refugee policy director Bill Frelick.

A Lebanese official quoted by AFP said the country did not offer special treatment for Iraqis, but did offer residency to anyone who qualified for it.

Lebanon never signed the 1951 UN convention on refugees. For decades its politics has been dominated by finely balanced sectarianism, which analysts say makes it hyper-sensitive to demographic changes caused by influxes of refugees.

More than 2.5 million Iraqis are refugees, most of them in neighbouring Syria and Jordan and at least 2 million more are internally displaced.

Story from BBC NEWS

Friday, November 23, 2007

Lebanon president deadline looms

President Emile Lahoud
President Lahoud wants to appoint an army chief as his successor
Lebanese MPs are facing a deadline of midnight to appoint a new president.

However, mediators fear rival camps will fail to reach a deal, plunging the country into a deeper political crisis.

Repeated attempts to elect a new president over the past two months have been scuppered by rivalry between Western-backed and pro-Syrian factions.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who has been trying to broker a solution, said despite complications "a miracle is still possible".

But his Italian counterpart, Massimo D'Alema, was pessimistic on the eve of Friday's deadline.

"Tomorrow, I don't believe there will be an election and this will create difficult conditions," he said.

The French, Italian and Spanish foreign ministers have spent several days in Lebanon, meeting rival groups in an attempt to break the deadlock.

A vote in parliament has been scheduled for 1300 (1100 GMT), 11 hours before current President Emile Lahoud's term expires.

No compromise

The election of a president requires a two-thirds majority, which means that the anti-Syrian ruling bloc - with its slim majority - cannot force its preferred candidate through parliament. A deal with the opposition is therefore required.

The rival factions cannot agree on a compromise candidate, however.

Nassib Lahoud: Government candidate. Former US ambassador. Leading industrialist
Michel Aoun: Opposition candidate. Former army commander who fought Syria during civil war. Returned from exile in 2005. Vocal opponent of government
Michel Suleiman: Army commander since 1998. Electing him requires constitutional amendment
Riad Salameh: Central bank governor since 1993. Widely respected at home and abroad. Election requires constitutional amendment
Boutrous Harb: Pro-government candidate. MP and former minister
Jean Obeid: Possible consensus candidate. Foreign minister 2003-2004

And the opposition has warned it may boycott Friday's session, thus ensuring the quorum will not be reached and any vote will be invalid.

According to Article 62 of the Lebanese constitution, if no candidate is elected before Mr Lahoud's mandate expires, his powers are automatically transferred to the anti-Syrian government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora.

However, President Lahoud has vowed not to hand over power to Mr Siniora, and said he would name army chief General Michel Suleiman as his provisional successor instead.

Opposition leader Michel Aoun proposed a compromise on Thursday, whereby an interim president would be selected to fill the office until parliamentary elections were held in 2009.

This was dismissed by the ruling majority, however, which said the plan was unconstitutional.

The political deadlock has already led to the vote being postponed four times since 25 September.

The BBC's Kim Ghattas in Beirut says the failure to find a compromise has raised fears of civil strife, including the possibility that the opposition could create a rival administration, as happened during the civil war.

International efforts

Our correspondent says the issue is turning into a regional and international affair.

The US, Russia, Syria and Iran are all intensely involved and there has been a lot of diplomatic shuttling between Damascus, Moscow, Tehran and Paris.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice telephoned several of the country's top leaders on Monday.

Fears are growing that failure to elect a president will bring more turmoil to Lebanon.

The army has increased its presence on the streets of Beirut and set up checkpoints, some schools have cancelled classes until Monday, and the ministry of interior has suspended all firearm permits until further notice.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

I want my son and my husband to become lebos!!

About the Campaign

Women’s right to equal citizenship is guaranteed by the majority of Arab constitutions, as well as by international law. Yet across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and the Gulf, women are denied their right to nationality – a crucial component of citizenship.

In almost every country in the MENA and Gulf regions, women who marry men of other nationalities cannot confer their original nationality to their husbands or children. Only fathers, not mothers, can confer their nationality to their children.

Discriminatory laws denying women equal nationality rights undermine women’s status as equal citizens in their home countries. Such laws send the message that women do not enjoy a direct relationship with the state, but must access their citizenship rights through mediation of a male family member, such as a father or a husband. Until women in the MENA and Gulf regions are recognized as full nationals and citizens, they cannot participate fully in public life, nor claim the other rights to which they are entitled as equal members of their societies.

The denial of women’s nationality rights also created real suffering for dual nationality families living in the woman’s home country. Children and spouses are treated as foreigners and must obtain costly residence permits. Children are often excluded from social services such as social security, healthcare and subsidized or free access to education. In many countries, spouses and children have limited employment opportunities and are unable to own property. In terms of psychological impact, many women feel isolated and guilty because they feel responsible for the difficulties faced by their families, while children suffer from low self-esteem because of their second-class status.
Goals of the Campaign

The Women’s Learning Partnership joins with regional partners in the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf to call for:

* Legal reform enabling women to confer their nationality to their husbands and children without condition
* Full implementation of reformed nationality laws and equal access to these laws for all women
* Recognition of women as equal citizens in all areas of life

المطالبة بالمساواة في حق المواطنة

حملة من أجل المطالبة بحق النساء العربيات في نقل الجنسية

تعريف عن الحملة

لقد أقرت معظم الدساتير العربية والقوانين الدولية حق النساء في مواطنة متساوية. إلا أن النساء في بلدان المشرق والمغرب العربيين وفي منطقة الخليج العربي، لايزلن محرومات من حقهن في منح جنسيتهن إلى عائلاتهن (الزوج والأولاد) في حال تزوجن من جنسية أخرى، هذا الحق الذي يشكل عنصرا حاسما من عناصر المواطنة.

ففي معظم دول المشرق والمغرب العربيين، لا يحق للنساء اللاتي يتزوجن من رجال من غير جنسيتهن أن يمنحن جنسيتهن إلى الزوج والأولاد، حيث يقتصر هذا الحق على الرجال دون سواهم.

وبالتالي فإن القوانين التمييزية التي تحول دون حق النساء بمنح جنسيتهن إلى الزوج والأولاد، تؤثر سلباً على تمتنع النساء بمواطنة كاملة وفاعلة. هذا النوع من التمييز القانوني يحرم النساء كمواطنات من تمتعهن بعلاقة مباشرة بالدولة، إذ لابد من وجود وسيط ذكر، لكي تحصل على مستحقاتها وحقوقها. وعليه، فإن النساء في دول المشرق والمغرب العربيين، وفي دول الخليج العربي، لن يشاركن في بصورة كاملة وفاعلة في مرافق الحياة العامة، ولن يتمكن من الولوج إلى المستحقات الإجتماعية إلا إذا تمتعن بمواطنة كاملة.

ومن جهة أخرى، فإن حرمان المرأة من ممارسة حقها بالمواطنة الكاملة عبر قدرتها على منح الجنسية، يسبب معاناة حقيقية لأفراد أسرها الذين يعيشون في وطن والدتهم/هن، ويحملون جنسية مخالفة، حيث يعامل الأطفال والأزواج كأجانب وبالتالي يتوجب عليهم/هن دفع مصاريف مكلفة للحصول على تصاريح الإقامة. هذا فضلاً عن حرمان الأطفال وعدم تمتعهم/هن بالخدمات الاجتماعية، مثل الرعاية الصحية والضمان الاجتماعي والإعانات و الحصول على التعليم المجاني. كما يعاني الأزواج والأبناء في عدد كبير من هذه البلدان من محدودية فرص العمل وغياب الحق في الملكية.

أما بالنسبة لتبعات ذلك النفسية، فإن الكثير من النساء يشعرن بالعزلة ويتملكهن الشعور بالذنب كونهم يعتبرن أنفسهن مسؤولات على الصعوبات التي تواجهها أفراد أسرهن، في حين يعاني الأطفال من تدني احترام الذات بسبب وضعهم القانوني الذي يجعل منهم مواطنين من الدرجة الثانية.

أهداف الحملة

ينضم “التضامن النسائي للتعلم من أجل الحقوق و التنمية و السلام” / Women’s Learning Partnership (WLP) إلى الجمعيات الجهوية الشريكة له في بلدان الشرق الأوسط و شمال إفريقيا و منطقة الخليج للمطالبة ب :

• إصلاح قانوني يعطي المرأة حق نقل جنسيتها لزوجها وأطفالها دون شروط،

• تنفيذ كامل للإصلاحات التي تم تعديلها في قوانين الجنسية والحق لجميع النساء بالتمتع بهذه القوانين،

• الاعتراف بالنساء كمواطنات على قدم المساواة مع غيرهن من المواطنين في كافة مجالات الحياة.

حملة منظمة من طرف “التضامن النسائي للتعلم من أجل الحقوق و التنمية و السلام ” بمشاركة مع “مركز الإعلام و التوثيق لحقوق الطفل و المرأة” (الجزائر ،(CIDEF/
” جمعية النساء البحرينيات” (البحرين ،(BWS/
” منتدى النساء من أجل التنمية” (مصر ،(FWID/
” المعهد الدولي لتضامن النساء” (الأردن ،(SIGI/J/
“ مجموعة الأبحاث و التدريب للعمل التنموي” (لبنان ،(CRTD-A/
و الجمعية الديمقراطية لنساء المغرب (المغرب (ADFM/
Take Action

* Sign the Petition
* Tell a Friend
* Action Survey #2

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


حملة "خلص!" مبادرة مستقلّة أطلقها المجتمع المدني، في كافة أطرافه ومكوّناته من أفراد ونقابات وجمعيات ومؤسسات غير حكومية ومؤسسات خاصة. نسعى من خلال هذه الحملة الى التشديد على خطورة الأزمة الراهنة التي يتخبّط فيها لبنان، والضغط على الأطراف السياسية من أجل انهاء الجمود السلبي الذي وصلت إليه، مصمّمين على ضرورة تخطّي هذه المرحلة المصيرية.

Khalass! campaign is an independent initiative led by the Lebanese civil society in all its components: syndicates, associations, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. We seek through this campaign to emphasize the gravity of the current political crisis in Lebanon and to exert pressure on the leaders of political ends in order to overcome today’s deadlock. Getting through this vital period is crucial to ascertain our will to live together.

Khalass ! est une campagne indépendante initiée par la société civile libanaise dans ses différentes composantes (individus, syndicats, associations, organisations non gouvernementales, entreprises privées). Khalass ! un cri de conscience face à la gravité de la conjoncture actuelle ; un appel lancé aux responsables politiques pour les exhorter à dépasser cette impasse étatique neutralisante. En surmontant la crise, nous affirmons la volonté des libanais de continuer à vivre ensemble.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

lebanese films' cocktail

interesting blog about lebanese films

Falafel By Michel Kammoun

Caramel by Nadine Labaki



Mission: To climb to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in September 2007

To plant the Lebanese flag on the highest peak in Africa. At an altitude of nearly 6,000 meters, the team will set a record for the first ever financial transaction on the Lebanese Stock Exchange from this height on earth.

The team preparing for Kili in Snowdon in May 07

Why? To raise £200,000 for educational projects in Lebanon

Following the summer conflict of 2006 and years of neglect and under-investment, the schools in Lebanon are not suitable to provide high quality education.

As a first step to addressing this problem, we intend to raise £200k, which will secure a further £1.25 million from UNICEF, to improve the quality of education in 25 schools in rural Lebanon. Moreover, IMC UK will also commit a further £120k to this project, which will take the total amount raised to £1.57 million.

The team preparing for Kili in Scafell Pike in June 07

Who? Lebanon United and IMC UK in conjunction with UNICEF

Five young Lebanese bankers will be climbing Kilimanjaro for Lebanon United to raise money for an IMC UK (International Medical Corps) project supported by UNICEF International.

For more information on this project, please contact kili@lebunited.org
For website related queries please contact bassem@eltibi.com

Under the bombs

Philippe Aractingi: 'I wanted to present war differently'

Last Updated: 12:01am BST 24/08/2007

Philippe Aractingi tells David Gritten how he shot 'Under the Bombs' in the middle of a real conflict

The next few months are shaping up as a cinematic season of war, with a batch of heavyweight Hollywood films dealing with events in the Middle East. But none was made under more treacherous, life-threatening conditions than Under the Bombs, a part-British production that has its world première at the Venice Film Festival next week.

Under the Bombs
Jolting: Under the Bombs

Its background is the Israeli bombing of Lebanon last summer - and, remarkably, its Lebanese director, Philippe Aractingi, shot part of the film while the war still raged.

"I decided to shoot in several stages," he says on a recent visit to London. "I was torn between a need to act quickly before the dust of the bombing had settled, and a necessity to remain objective, so as to avoid making a mere partisan pamphlet."

He and screenwriter Michel Léviant had only a broad idea for a script: Zeina, a Lebanese woman, arrives in Beirut searching for her son, who had been staying with her sister in southern Lebanon. At the airport, she looks in vain for a taxi, but only Toni, a driver from the south, will agree to take her. Their search for the boy is the central story.

Aractingi began shooting in Lebanon 10 days after the war began last summer. His wife is French, so the French army repatriated them and their children for their own safety. But three days after a ceasefire was announced, he returned on a military ship to resume filming.


"Lebanon was then burying its dead," he says, "and UN forces were landing on the shores of a land still under the shock of bombing." His two lead actors - Nada Abou Farhat (Zeina) and Georges Khabbaz (Toni) - improvised scenes with Lebanese citizens, refugees whose homes had been destroyed by bombs, and international journalists covering the war.

In one scene, Farhat is shown asking journalists at a real UN press conference if they know the whereabouts of the fictional boy. Real refugees tell her and Khabbaz about the devastation of their homes and lives. All these scenes show the rubble of a country reeling from aerial bombing attacks; they are almost painfully authentic.

"The reality was infinitely more dramatic than any tragedy I could have invented," Aractingi says. "So I decided to simply capture it as it was." Armed with this arresting footage, he left Lebanon and devised a script with Léviant, incorporating the scenes already shot. These jolting scenes would be used to lure potential investors.

Last October, Léviant went to the Dinard Film Festival, where he met the British film producer Paul Raphael (Anita and Me), who was so enthused by hearing how the war scenes in Under the Bombs were shot that he called around to raise funds. By December, there was enough money for Aractingi to return to Lebanon to shoot the fictional part of the story.

Now Under the Bombs is ready to be unveiled in Venice. As Aractingi points out, it has been just a year from its conception to its completion: "I wanted to present war differently," he says now. "I didn't want to show dead people. But they were there, crushed under stones and rubble. And it's for them that I made this film."

Information appearing on telegraph.co.uk is the copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited and must not be reproduced in any medium without licence. For the full copyright statement see Copyright

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

naffa'o (-1)

Spanish Soldier Returns to South to Wed Lebanese
A Lebanese woman and a former Spanish peacekeeper got married in south Lebanon, the first wedding between a Lebanese and a U.N. soldier since UNIFIL's reinforcement.
An Nahar daily said that Juan Antonio Cerrano Alvarez and Dunia Atallah tied the knot at Saint Peter's Cathedral in Jdeidet-Marjayoun on Sunday.

It said the couple met at a military apparel store where Atallah worked as the soldier was serving with the Spanish contingent in the south between October 2006 and February 2007.

Alvarez returned to Spain after the end of his mission but decided to come back to Lebanon to marry the woman he described as "special."

As Safir daily said Sunday's wedding was the first between a Lebanese woman and a UNIFIL soldier since the peacekeeping mission was beefed up following last summer's July-August Israeli offensive.

It reported around 60 cases of marriage between peacekeepers and young Lebanese women prior to the war.

Beirut, 23 Jul 07, 10:48

Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Living with Cluster Bombs"

A deadly legacy remains in Lebanon as a result of last year's war. It is estimated that four million cluster bombs were dropped in the last three days of the war, a quarter of which did not explode on impact. To date, clearance organisations have disposed of a total of 118,000 bombs, leaving over 880,000 yet to be cleared. By June of this year 239 people, many of them children, were injured or killed by unexploded ordnance. Kristian Buus, a Danish photojournalist, visited Lebanon recently to make a film on the legacy of the cluster bombs left by Israel. You can view the short and long versions of "Living with Cluster Bombs" here: www.kristianbuus.com.
In the film you meet Rashad Siblini from Tyre, a 26 year old who is clearing cluster bombs from affected areas, and Housam Sh'adi who is 34 and doing the same. They are helping people like Ali Salami, whose land in Tyre is littered with bomblets - Ali found 536 bomblets on his small patch of land before the UN even began their clearance operations. We are also introduced to Muhammed Nahle, a Lebanese Civil Defence volunteer whose leg was amputated as a result of a cluster bomb injury which took place on the last day of the war. His ability to remain optimistic in the light of such an injury is inspiring. These people are the heroes whose daily lives continue to be affected by the effects of last year's war. They are the faces and the living stories behind the statistics we hear. (lebanon united source)

Saturday, June 09, 2007

A Message of Peace and Love to ALL my fellow Lebanese everywhere in the world!

Dear Lebanese,

I would like this message to be a wake-up call to all Lebanese everywhere; whatever our political beliefs, religion or sect!

Please hear this plea:

Lebanon is going through a very difficult period on many different levels but most importantly on a street level.
I URGE everyone to try your best to calm the people around you. Now is not the time to 'talk' or to inflame friends and neighbours.
Please practice restraints!

If we allow them, the political crisis our politicians are putting us through will soon spill onto our streets!
If WE, as sovereign and independent Lebanese citizens , do nothing to stop it we will have a civil war on our hands again!
We have to use our rational and our common sense and not be manipulated into hatred of one another and street expressions!

None of us want to see our children fighting and killing each other on the streets again!
None of us want to witness a new wave of death, hate, destruction and humiliation again!
None of us want to be manipulated and treated like sheep without any will or conscious again!
None of us want to live in fear of sending our children to their universities and schools where students are being bullied and bitten for expressing an opinion again!

Please talk to your children and friends and convince them:
Not to rise to provocation
Not to allow anyone to push their buttons
Not to be source of provocation
Not to inflame other's political and/or religious loyalties
Not to get into a war of words with others over politics or religion
Not to get into fist-fights or feuds with others over politics or religion
Not to destroy or assist in the destruction of another's properties/cars over politics or religion
Not to be influenced into expressing their opinions in our streets !
NOT TO SPREAD ON THE INTERNET political messages, pictures and caricatures that can be provocative to anyone
If you love our Lebanon, please forward this message to as many Lebanese as you possibly can so that we can help calm and defuse a highly explosive situation and maybe avert a crisis!
Our country's survival and the lives of our children depend on our collective efforts !

Peace be upon us all!
A Patriotic Lebanese
On behalf of all Lebanese

Monday, June 04, 2007

Militants Open New Warfront to Ease Pressure on Fatah al-Islam in Nahr al-Bared

Islamic militants opened a new warfront in the southern refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh in a clear effort to ease the pressure on Fatah al-Islam fighters locked up in fierce gunbattles with Lebanese troops trying to crush the al-Qaida inspired terrorists deep inside Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon.
A military spokesman said two Lebanese army soldiers and two Islamist extremists from Jund al-Sham were killed in the overnight clashes at Ain al-Hilweh.

They said 11 other people were also wounded in the fighting which broke out anew after militants attacked army checkpoints in Taamir, a residential area adjacent to Ain al-Hilweh, with grenades, prompting Lebanese troops to respond with artillery and machine gun fire.

Back at Nahr al-Bard, Lebanese troops on Sunday pushed ahead, pounding Fatah al-Islam hideouts relentlessly.

Many in Lebanon believed the army would be able to crush the Fatah al-Islam quickly, but after three days of fierce battles using artillery and tanks, the troops continued to face strong resistance.

Lebanese security officials said that Nahr al-Bared had been strategically divided into three zones. The army was controlling one zone, the militants held another, while Palestinian civilians and Fatah al-Islam guerrillas controlled the third and were refusing the militants sanctuary, they said.

Lebanese troops on Sunday fought their toughest battles with Fatah al-Islam militants holding out inside Nahr al-Bared.

White smoke rose from the camp all day as the Lebanese army resumed its bombardment of Fatah al-Islam hideouts, the third day of a military offensive aimed at crushing the fighters.

But unlike the first two days of the offensive against Fatah al-Islam when the army targeted areas on the edges of the Nahr el-Bared camp, Sunday's artillery fire was directed at militant positions deep inside the camp, indicating that troops were advancing further inside.

There was no way to tell exactly how deep the army had advanced into the camp, because the area had been sealed off and journalists were kept away.

Al-Arabiya's correspondent, reporting live from the scene of the fighting, said Lebanese troops penetrated deep into Nahr al-Bared around midday Sunday and were locked in "violent building-to-building" battles" with Fatah al-Islam militants around the Cooperative site inside the camp.

Correspondent for the state-run National News Agency in north Lebanon said army troops were in "full control over all axes" to Nahr al-Bared following heavy confrontations between the military and extremist fighters on Sunday.

NNA said the army advance was part of a plan aimed at tightening the noose on the militants who have been cornered in the operation that began early Sunday on the camp's Samed, Cooperative and al-Khan zones.

A senior Lebanese army officer said nine Lebanese troops have been killed, and several others wounded since Friday when the army launched its latest ground offensive against Fatah al-Islam militants.

The casualties raised the army's death toll to 44 since the standoff began two weeks ago. At least 20 civilians and about 60 militants have also been killed, but casualties in the camp in the last three days were unknown because relief organizations were banned from entering.

Fatah al-Islam spokesman Abu Salim Taha confirmed that five Fatah al-Islam fighters, including a senior leader, have been killed and seven wounded since Friday.

Officials said the group's third-in-command, Naim Deeb Ghali, identified as Abu Riad, who was known to send fighters to Iraq, was also killed in the gunbattles with Lebanese troops.

NNA reported four Islamist militants were killed on Sunday, including the group's deputy leader Shehab al-Qaddour, better known as Abu Hureira.

Al-Arabiya, however, said there were conflicting reports on whether Abu Hureira, a Lebanese, was killed or wounded in his shoulder.

LBC television said Lebanese troops have also rounded up more than 20 militants.

In other developments, the main road linking Tripoli with the province of Akkar and the Syrian border reopened Sunday. Vehicles were seen passing on the road that was closed for two days by Lebanese troops over fears of snipers.

Earlier Sunday, the army denied that the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon was helping Lebanese troops in their fight against Fatah al-Islam.(Naharnet-AFP-AP)(AP photo shows the Lebanese army shelling a building being used by a militant sniper in Nahr al-Bared)

Beirut, 04 Jun 07, 08:01

Sunday, June 03, 2007

ein il hilweh

my father back in 1998 had this cartoon drawn ... about a possible explosion
in Ain il Helwe camp . reading the news today about the camp and the fights that erupted between jund il islam (where do these people spring from ?) and fatah...

here is the cartoon...

Translation( ain il helweh camp)

Ain al-Hilweh (variously, Ayn al-Hilweh, Ein al-Hilweh, etc.; the literal meaning is "eye of beauty") (Arabic: عين الحلوة) is the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon with over 70,000 refugees, located on the outskirts of the port of Sidon.[1] Due to the fact that Lebanese Armed Forces are not allowed to enter the camp Ain al-Hilweh has been called a "zone of unlaw" by the Lebanese media.[2] Many people wanted by the Lebanese government are believed to have taken refuge in the camp as a result of the lack of Lebanese authority.[3]

Monday, May 28, 2007

A letter from a Lebanese mother

We feel very bad about the situation in the country and can't visualize how things will evolve.
The situation looks very dim and the explosions will most probably continue. If the
government succeded in Naher al-Bared it will sure have its eyes on the other camps.
They are trying to gain popularity facingthe opposition because all the Lebanese are for the army to take control of the security of the camps.
This could have been something good if it wasn't that the government is pro American and in effect is complying with its policies in the Middle East and its savage social policies in
favour of the priviliged mafia's and financial titanic Arab and world enterprises.

If the government treats the Palestinians like humanbeings and if it provides them with the basic rights and recognition (the Palestinian Lebanese are the most oppressed among all the Palestinian refugees in the Arab world; forbidden from practicing 70 different
jobs and aren't allowed to possess a flat or land they also are not offered any kind of health or other services from the government under the pretext that the UNRWA must handle these issues and because they don't want them to settle in this country).

When the Palestinians who were massacred by the Lebanese forces ( who are now in the governement) and the Israelis and when the government doesn't show any
intention of protecting the conuntry against the Israeli's.

When you have such poor and opressed people whether Palestinians or Lebanese while on the other hand you find (Fahesh) or outrageous wealth of Lebanese and Arabs.

When the basic health services aren't provided when the poor isn't allowed to enter
the emergency room and many die on the doors when people don't earn a penny and when they watch the humilation and annihilation of the Palestinians and
Iraqi's they don't harvest except violence.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Destruction and deceit in North Lebanon

Destruction and deceit in North Lebanon
By Michael Young
Daily Star staff
Thursday, May 24, 2007

There are few pleasures these days as Lebanon descends into the kind of violence that Syria seems to manufacture so effortlessly. However, one of them is discovering how easy it was for a gaggle of pro-Syrian Lebanese operators to manipulate investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, before he wrote a much-discussed article recently implying that the Lebanese government was financing Islamist groups, including Fatah al-Islam.

In his article for The New Yorker, Hersh faithfully channeled what sources in Lebanon told him, lending legitimacy to statements he otherwise failed to prove. Most prominently, for being so specific, he wrote that "representatives of the Lebanese government" had supplied weapons and money to Fatah al-Islam. But Hersh's only evidence for this claim was a quote attributed to one Alistair Crooke, a former MI6 agent who is co-director of Conflicts Forum, an institution advocating dialogue with Islamist movements. Nor did Crooke have direct knowledge of what he was saying. In fact, he "was told" the weapons were offered to the group, "presumably to take on Hizbullah." The argument is now being picked up by media belonging to senior members of the Syrian regime to affirm that the Lebanese Army is fighting an Islamist group in the Nahr al-Bared camp that is effectively on the payroll of Saad Hariri.

Lately, we've had more ricochets from that story. Writing in The Independent on May 22, journalist Robert Fisk, who we might forget lives in Beirut, picked up on Hersh, citing him uncritically to again make the case that Hariri was financing Islamists. So we have Fisk quoting Hersh quoting Crooke quoting someone nameless in a throwaway comment making a serious charge. Yet not one of these somnolent luminaries has bothered to actually verify if the story is true, even as everything about the fighting in Nahr al-Bared virtually confirms it is not true. The lie about the government financing of Fatah al-Islam has been given legitimacy thanks to a spectacular blunder by the Hariri camp, in particular Bahiyya al-Hariri. A few months ago she helped resolve a crisis that had resulted from the presence of Islamists located in the Taamir district of Sidon, abutting the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, by paying compensation money to Jund al-Sham militants so they would leave the area. From the narrow perspective of Sidon, which Bahiyya al-Hariri represents in Parliament, this made sense. Taamir was a running sore in relations between the state and inhabitants of the area on the one side and the Islamists and camp residents on the other. However, instead of disbanding, a number of the militants went to Nahr al-Bared, according to Palestinian sources. There, they joined Fatah al-Islam. Now the Hariris look like they financed Islamists, when they were really only doing what they usually do when facing a problem: trying to buy it away.

The relationship between Fatah al-Islam and Syria is not absolutely clear. While the movement is undeniably doing Syria's bidding today and has received Syrian logistical assistance (after all, its militants who weren't inside Lebanon had to enter from somewhere), Fatah al-Islam may be operating in collaboration with, rather than as a direct extension of, Syria's security services. This gives Syria deniability. Shaker Absy, who is wanted by the Jordanian authorities for the killing of an American diplomat in Amman in 2003, fought in Iraq and was briefly arrested by the Syrians before being sent to Lebanon, according to two Palestinian officials. Fatah al-Islam's sources of funding are also difficult to establish. The group has been supplied with up-to-date weaponry and the means to distribute patronage. But it might be a mistake to assume the money is Syrian, even though Damascus can turn the tap to the group on and off.

Between the fighting in the North and the bombings in Beirut, Syria is sending a very plain message, one that the foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem, and the ambassador to the United Nations, Bashar Jaafari, brazenly echoed on Monday. It is that passage of the Hariri tribunal under Chapter VII of the UN Charter will mean a Lebanon in flames. The threat is clear, and the Verdun bombing on Monday evening seemed partly destined to send a message to the Russians, whose cultural center is located at the blast scene. Both Russia and China are the weak links in any Security Council vote on the tribunal.

However, Syria wants more than merely to undermine the tribunal. It wants to have a decisive say in who becomes president of Lebanon at the end of summer. The bloodshed in the North as well as the bomb attacks have another destination: the United States, which has indicated that Syria would not be consulted on Emile Lahoud's replacement.

The Assad regime never reconciled itself with its forced withdrawal from Lebanon, and is now actively seeking to reimpose its hegemony over its neighbor through a network of allies and agents. A return of tens of thousands of Syrian soldiers may not be achievable in the short term, particularly as the main barrier to such a return would, this time, be an outraged Sunni community. This could have severe implications for President Bashar Assad at home. However, the Syrians often operate according to an obsolete template - that of Hafez al-Assad. While it may be easy for them to provoke conflict in Lebanon, as they did throughout the war years between 1975 and 1990, the Syrian leadership might not be able to resist the blowback this time around if new hostilities break out.

Another Syrian objective, and this one will be far easier to achieve, is to increase Lebanese antipathy for the Hariri tribunal. It won't take many more bombs for people to begin wondering whether passage of the tribunal by the UN is worth Lebanon's destruction. Perhaps the tribunal is not worth it, but the question that both the international community and the Arab states must ask, and convincingly answer, is whether Syria will agree to surrender Lebanon if the tribunal's statutes are watered down. Up to now, Assad has shown no willingness to consider this quid pro quo.

Those who insist that Syria must be "engaged" have thought very little about how to safeguard Lebanese sovereignty. Yet unless the Security Council, the Europeans, and the Arab states show that Syria will pay a heavy price for what it is doing in Lebanon, things will only get worse in the country. Every day, Assad feels more confident that he can prevail. And when prominent Western journalists so gullibly write what the Syrians want them to, there is no reason for him to feel any other way.

Michael Young is opinion editor of THE DAILY STAR.

Sunday, May 06, 2007


yes i am back home after almost a year ...
visiting home for 10 days
with a baby belly of 5 months to show off...

well in short ? same as i thought it would be
tense , less than expected
but army presence , checkpoints... etc... security paranoia is definitely in town...

OH Beirut ! Beirut !

it has been amazing to be back , i am really enjoying walking in the streets of Beirut , wandering off and having chats with taxi drivers , but the general mood is not amazing.

people who are making money and working are happy and positive , and the other majority , who is unemployed or quite poor is nagging, negative and cannot take it...

something fundemental won't change is gossip.... ahhhhh! people gossip so much in this part of the world... ya3ni, take care after striking a conversation , pray if you are a believer and hope nobody is talking in your back. I am in constant fear walla... not from my close mates but generally ...:)

people smoke like chimneys, yes now it is more obvious because my senses are all over the place... i am constantly tired and coughing mucous. I do not smoke i am preggo, my baby is passively smoking while in his womb... i said to myself , what can i do i have been trying to stay away for 5 months , now these 10 days have tired me like hell, soon i will go back to london and i will try to forget and clean my baby's lungs by leading a much cleaner environment especially at home .

what else? politics? ah yea that used to be a political blog , well people stopped listening to the news and they are totally fed up and do not give a damn...

i leave u with some pictures from lebanon.

Great place to be : bardo , if u r there check it out:

AT SAMRA / good music

the wedding of Anas Ghaibeh and Mona Hallak that i attended in rawdah cafe ,
an exceptionally interesting event...

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


!Organised by Lebanon United!

A unique evening of short films by young and up-and-coming Lebanese filmmakers.
Shawarma sandwiches on sale during the intermission.
At Cine Lumiere in South Kensington from 7.30pm to 10.30pm

Friday, March 30, 2007


Lebanese gloom at continuing crisis
By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Beirut

Peace protest in central Beirut
Campaigners print white hands on black to symbolise hopes for peace

Four months of protests, on-going sit-ins and general tension are taking their toll on the Lebanese, but there is no breakthrough in sight.

There was some hope that a solution to the political crisis would be found before the Arab League summit in Riyadh which started on 28 March.

Instead, separate delegations of rival politicians have headed to the Saudi capital to represent Lebanon.

They are likely to come back to Beirut after the meeting - much to the disappointment of those Lebanese who cheerfully sing along with a humorous hit song that plays on local television every evening.

"Lebanon's leaders have left, our joy is great. We can live in peace, our country is a paradise once more," the song goes.

"We're tired of listening to their speeches, we've put them all on a boat and sent them on a cruise far away from here."

Lack of confidence

The words are an indictment of Lebanon's political class and it reflects the lack of confidence in politicians on both sides of the divide.

"If some politicians felt the song was too tough on them, never mind. The politicians have made people suffer too," said Ghadi Rahbani, the composer.

"Maybe this song will push the politicians to wake up and realise there are real problems in this country that need to be dealt with."

Up to now, politically speaking, nothing has been achieved. But you need two to tango - we are responsible for the crisis but the one who is holding power has more responsibility
Ali Hamdan
Opposition politician
But are the leaders listening? Ali Hamdan is a member of the opposition, which has been demanding a greater say in the government and has been holding an ongoing protest in the centre of Beirut to keep up the pressure.

The opposition sit-in has paralysed economic life and sapped confidence in the country's future.

So what does Mr Hamdan think of the song, and about the current political crisis?

"It's democracy, so they have the right to say this. I don't think the Lebanese want their leaders to leave. If they do, well the elections are coming," he said.

But so what has opposition achieved so far? Mr Hamdan's response was candid.

"Up to now, politically speaking, nothing has been achieved. But you need two to tango - we are responsible for the crisis but the one who is holding power has more responsibility," he said.

Fear of chaos

But the government and the parliamentary majority are also coming under criticism, even from some of their supporters.

They have been accused of being stubborn and holding on to power at the expense of the country.

New people, new faces that we can really look at and hope. I think it's the best solution right now

"I think this song is a little bit unfair but I understand why the people would sing that song, because people are lost," said cabinet minister Nayla Moawad.

"But in spite of a certain discontent, they are still with us and I hope we will be able to fulfil a good part of their expectations," she said. "We certainly have a part of responsibility. It's difficult to build a nation in those conditions."

I asked Ms Moawad why the government didn't resign if they were unable to do their job.

"It sometimes feels like that would be the easiest solution. But if there are no generations behind us who can take immediately the control of the situation. We would be heavily responsible for chaos, a total chaos in Lebanon," she said.

Two camps, both saying they represent the people, both saying the other side bears more responsibility for the crisis. The deadlock is splitting the country.

In January, supporters of the opposition and of the government clashed on the streets of Beirut and seven people were killed.

New faces, new solution

On the streets of Beirut, there are small events, organised by civil society groups that are campaigning against division and violence.

Army deployed in central Beirut. February 2007
The army deployed to keep pro-and anti-government supporters apart
The Lebanese fear they may be dragged back into a war.

People like Reem Mobassali blame all politicians and the people who follow them blindly in a country where sectarian patrons wield considerable power.

"We've set up a black banner here and we're all dipping our hands in white paint and printing them on the banner," explained Reem.

"The idea is hand by hand, citizen by citizen, we can take back the situation and turn a brighter light onto it and put pressure on the politicians to act more responsibly, to behave like public servants."

It is all a far cry from the mood two years ago, when hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets, full of hope, calling for change after years of Syrian military occupation.

The Syrians are gone now but a lot of Lebanese feel not much else is different.

This year, apart from a small concert to commemorate those demonstrations and protest against the current state of affairs, there seems to be little left of what was dubbed the Cedar Revolution.

In the centre of Beirut, near the site of the massive protests of 2005, Lebanese rap band Ashekman sang about their love for Lebanon, their anger at the bickering politicians and world players interfering in their country's affairs.

As they listened, young people said it was time to find a solution.

One young man, Omar, said: "New people, new faces that we can really look at and hope. I think it's the best solution right now."

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

So who were they?

Lebanon war image causes controversy
By Kim Ghattas
BBC News, Beirut

Thousands of pictures were taken in Lebanon during the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah in 2006, but it was a surprising picture by Spencer Platt, an American photo journalist for Getty Images, that was chosen as best news picture of the year.

Winner of the World Press Photo. By Spencer Platt (Getty Images)

It was awarded the first prize in the prestigious World Press Photo awards.

The award sparked a debate in Lebanon. The picture appears to neatly summarise Lebanon's contradictions - glamour amidst the destruction, seemingly careless rich kids on a voyeuristic trip.

But there is much more to the picture than these cliches.


Spencer Platt took his picture on 15 August, a day after the ceasefire, in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold, as thousands of people flocked back to homes they had fled during the Israeli shelling.

The original caption accompanying the picture read: "Affluent Lebanese drive down the street to look at a destroyed neighbourhood 15 August 2006 in southern Beirut, Lebanon."

World Press Photo jury chairwoman Michele McNally said: "[It's a] picture you can keep looking at. It has the complexity and contradiction of real life, amidst chaos. This photograph makes you look beyond the obvious."

The picture was picked up by magazines and newspapers around the world and passed around by e-mail in Lebanon.

The picture challenges our notion of what a victim is meant to look like. These people are not victims, they look strong, they're full of youth
Spencer Platt

One Dutch newspaper published it under the heading: "The Cool People VS Hezbollah."

In Beirut, some people laughed or shrugged their shoulders at the picture - it seemed so Lebanese. Others were horrified it won such a prestigious prize because of what it said about their country.

Some photographers criticised it, describing it as just a snapshot, without much depth or great composition.

Talking to the BBC over the phone from New York, Spencer Platt said his picture was not meant to show any Lebanese in a bad light.

The person who was helping me with my work while in Lebanon, Wafa, looked like she could have stepped out of that car. But she was certainly not rich and her life had been turned upside down by the war.

The picture challenges our notion of what a victim is meant to look like. These people are not victims, they look strong, they're full of youth.

Only in Lebanon can you find a Mini Cooper against a backdrop of bombed out buildings. Lebanese people are very hard to classify. There were many other pictures of the war, but this one started a conversation.


Four of the young people in the group are actually residents of the area and had to flee during the shelling.

This was the first time they returned to the suburbs and they were eager to check on their apartment and their belongings.

The driver was Jad Maroun, his sister Tamara, is the blond girl sitting in the front, in the winning picture.

Picture by Kim Ghattas
The friends in the car got to know each during the summer's conflict
She isn't in this group picture. She couldn't make it to the interview because she was getting ready for her engagement party.

Bissan, Jad's other sister, pictured here second from the right, was sitting in the back of the car in the winning picture, taking pictures with her mobile phone.

She recorded a short video of their drive. On it you can hear people commenting on their appearance and the girls screaming back: "We live here!"

Although Christians, the Marouns actually live in the dominantly Shia southern suburbs and their apartment block is now surrounded by flattened buildings.

Liliane Nacouzi, on the left, is a friend. A Christian, she's the only one who had never been to the area before.

She held a tissue to her face in the winning picture because of the fumes from the fires still burning in the rubble.

Nour Nasser, the only Shia in the group, is wearing a pistachio green top here but was hidden behind Liliane in the car. She also lives in the southern suburbs of Beirut.

All the people in the picture, except Lana Khalil (second from left), were displaced by the war and were put up by their employers in the same hotel in the centre of Beirut, where they became friends.


The convertible orange Mini in the picture belongs to Lana Khalil. She lent the car to her boyfriend, Jad, so he could take his sisters and Nour to the suburbs and find their house.

On the dashboard, there's a sticker for Samidoun, a grassroots relief organisation to which Lana belongs.

This car has a story. This isn't just a bourgeois, trendy, tourist car, this car played a big role in the war.

It was used throughout the war to help deliver medication to refugees who had taken shelter in schools in central Beirut.

We also took medication to people in the southern suburbs who refused to leave their homes or simply couldn't, people needed hard medication, like for diabetes.

Lana Khalil, owner of the famous Mini (Photo: Jeroen Kramer)

The relatives of a friend of mine were stuck in the suburbs, two or three days into the war, I went with him at night to pick them up, under the bombs.

It was very scary, that trip from central Beirut, usually takes about 15 minutes, it took 7 minutes that night.

The picture that won the award is very digestible as a war photo, it's something the people in the West can relate to.

It's an interesting picture, but there were so many more that reflected what really happened here.

The war was not fun, it was full of blood and gore and this picture trivialises what happened here. It makes you wonder how truthful a picture can be.

But it's true that there were people who did come to the area just to have a look at the destruction. It's also true that some people didn't really live through the war.

I took one day off during the whole war, and went up to the mountains for a break. I was surprised to see people partying up there, as though nothing was the matter.

It's the caption that went with the picture that made it famous and that's what's upsetting, the caption reinforces the cliche. We're frustrated by the generalisations that people make about Lebanon and Lebanese society.


A 29-year-old bank clerk and former model, Bissan Maroun says she had no idea that the award winning picture was being taken and that she was too focused on the destruction around them.

Driving into our neighbourhood was shocking. We had seen it on television but it wasn't the same as in real life.

The smell was terrible, for weeks, there was no rain, the fumes just hovered over the area. I don't understand why Israel had to destroy so much for the sake of two soldiers.

You have to remember that in Lebanon, everyone tries to look glamorous, the poor and the rich
Bissan Maroun
Our building escaped destruction but everything around it was flattened.

After the war, we considered leaving the area because we weren't sure how quickly we would be able to live a normal life again amidst all the destruction but things improved very quickly, so we're staying.

My parents live in our hometown in the north, because my father has to be near the hospital for medical treatment.

During the war, we gave shelter to nine families, around 40 people, in our home. We are not rich kids, we are really middle class, so the impression the picture gives is wrong.

You have to remember that in Lebanon, everyone tries to look glamorous, the poor and the rich. Appearances are very important.


Jad Maroun, is a 22-year-old, studying management.

When we were in the area, driving around in the open car, I thought it maybe wasn't very appropriate.

But we didn't have much of a choice. There were too many of us in the car, so we needed to roll the top back to make more space. Also there are no windows in the back, so Bissan, Liliane and Nour couldn't see anything.

My problem with the winning picture is that emphasises some of the misconceptions people have
Jad Maroun
It was very hot and they were suffocating from the fumes.

In some way I think I like the fact this picture won, it says a lot about Lebanon.

My problem with the winning picture is that emphasises some of the misconceptions people have - that it would be unusual for people who look like us to be in the area, they expect the area to be full of veiled women, to be dirty and impoverished.

But we live there and everybody makes us feel welcome even though we're Christian.


In the winning picture, Nour Nasser, a 21-year-old journalism student, is sitting in the back seat and is hidden.

We didn't tell our parents we were going to the suburbs that day. They wouldn't have let us go. There were still fears that the Israelis might strike again, or that there would be unexploded bombs everywhere.

I'm not a Hezbollah supporter. I'm a liberal but I'm not bothered by them
Nour Nasser
But we wanted to go see our houses, get hold of some of our stuff.

Seeing the streets that we walked on every day, seeing it all destroyed like that, was very tough. I've lived in the area for eight years, on the outskirts of the southern suburbs, closer to central Beirut.

I'm not a Hezbollah supporter. I'm a liberal but I'm not bothered by them.

I don't like my neighbourhood though. I don't' have any friends there, people look at you, they gossip.

I understand why the picture won. It's about the contrast between destruction and glamour. But it's the wrong image of the war and it sanitises it.

Also, it reflects only part of Lebanon. We are part of the working middle class and we can afford some things, like nice clothes or sunglasses but not everybody here can.

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