Today’s streets of Beirut in review

By Ana

Tens of thousands?

I was surprised to see the BBC, CNN International, and the AFP describe the number of participants in this exceptionally massive demonstration as “tens of thousands.” After the demonstration, I was able to get in touch with a couple of journalists and a prominent director of a media outlet who all explained to me that the media, and in particular the international media, was trying to move away from what they called, the “war of numbers.” They recounted how both sides of the Lebanese political spectrum have been trying to boost their credibility and popularity in terms of numbers. The media, has therefore decided to neutralize this war of words by not providing numbers, simply because the numbers are not important. According to this director, both sides have showed that they both have supporters and their own form of legitimacy from this grassroots support. Hence, the numbers no longer matter.

However, I have to ask, is it fair for the media to decide to neutralize this political discourse? Isn’t the very decision to neutralize it a form of participating in the discourse and taking a political stand? If the media is actually interested in helping calm political and social tension on the streets, then it is going to have to constructively participate in disseminating accurate information and facts and let the people decide for themselves how such information should be treated.

Sectarian discourse

Standing amongst the protesters near An Nahar, I was disappointed to witness three occurrences. I saw a group of young Sunni enthusiasts waving their Lebanese flags and chanting in a circle “Allah ma’al Sunnieh” (God is with the Sunnis). I then saw a group of young Lebanese Forces carrying crosses along with their Lebanese Forces flags around. Finally, I counted at least two dozen young men and women with Palestinian scarves. These Palestinians seem to believe they only have one choice: either to side with Hezbollah who claims to support the liberation of Palestinian land or to state their allegiance to the Sunni-ruled government. Given that most Palestinians are Sunni, they have chosen to side with the latter.

A move towards nationalism?

However, amidst this sectarian reality, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the opposite trend is also solidifying itself. Many Sunni men and women, and especially veiled women, took it upon themselves to carry around Lebanese Forces flags in lieu of their Lebanese flag. I also saw a group of Sunni sheikhs walking around with Lebanese Forces flags. The Sunnis have come to the conclusion that they owe much to the Head of the Lebanese Forces Dr. Samir Geagea. Without his support and conviction, the Christian card would have been lost a very long time ago. After returning home and watching the coverage of various news channels and newspapers, it was interesting to see how many featured Sunni participants carrying the Lebanese Forces flag. It was even more interesting to note that indeed, FPM leader General Michel Aoun can no longer say that he owns the Christian voice. Today was proof that the Lebanese Forces have taken ownership of a vast number of Lebanese objectives, whether they be Christian or Sunni.

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6 Comments

Filed under Lebanese Shi'a, Lebanese Sunnis, Lebanon, March 14

6 responses to “Today’s streets of Beirut in review

  1. ana

    Apologies for not being around for a very, very long time. I’m back 🙂

  2. Gkhaled

    I have noticed that there are a lot of women “with sacrfs” which indicate they must be Sunnis. I have not seen that many in the previous demonstrations for March 14!

    I think that the March 14 group is a very diverse group united to achieve one thing: Free, independent, sovereign Lebanon!

    God bless Lebanon!

  3. More bloodshed in Lebanon. Why is it happening yet again? What will it take for the security forces to get their act together? It is about time that the Lebanese took the matter into their own hands and led their country instead of waiting for someone for the outside to do it for them. It is time for them to be one. I know that it is easier said than done, but what the heck it is a blog after all
    Please let me know what you think @http://egyptiankangaroo.blogspot.com/

  4. ”The Sunnis have come to the conclusion that they owe much to the Head of the Lebanese Forces Dr. Samir Geagea.”

    I think Geagea has shown the most wisdom and tact among the March 14th leaders. I’m not much of a fan of the LF, but I have to say I’ve been very impressed with Geagea’s political stances since his release.

    Which brings me to another point, many people believe that Geagea owes his release, to a large extent, to the Future Movement (and to a certain extent the PSP). They believe that had it been left up to the people now camping in front of the Grand Serail (Aoun included), Geagea would still be in his MoD basement cell. A little far-fetched perhaps, but nevertheless something worth considering.

  5. check out the shia death squads

  6. 3ammo abu ahmed

    Why is a Sunni carrying an LF flag around labeled as nationalistic?
    You express dismay at sectarian behaviour but yet you take every opportunity to divide people into Christian and Sunni groups.

    Un-sectarian behaviour would mean actually Sunnis joining the LF and Christians joining the FM…not just waving around a stupid flag.

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