Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

Tips On Living With Terrorism

Tips On Living With Terrorism

By Chris Ritchie

Coastal township of Byblos
***********

Photos Of Christian Heartland By Jeremy Rose

Lebanon’s villages awake daily to the loud chorus of domesticated roosters’ collective morning calls.

This is a nation that must house a combined army of tens of thousands of chickens, providing households with a ready supply of fresh eggs.

But all attempts to get Lebanese to talk about global bird flu, or its possible human implications, seem to draw blank-to-indifferent responses.

Public health officials may be doing their strategic planning behind the scenes, but for ordinary citizens in this small Arabic-speaking country bordering the Mediterranean there seems to be no danger of public over-reaction, let alone panic, to an as-yet unrealized public health hazard.

It is perhaps an understandable psychological response for a nation that has had, in its not-too-distant past, its fill of fully-realized daily challenges to deal with in the form of a 16-year civil war that ended in 1991.

The unwillingness to fret about potential future danger also manifests itself in the field of terrorism, surely a potential risk to parents and their children in the wake of a string of individual bomb blasts averaging about one a month since last October.

After experiencing over a decade of relative political calm and frenzied post-war reconstruction, the politically-motivated terrorism of the past 13 months has come in the form of both targeted, as well as apparently arbitrary, bombings.

The first, in October of last year, injured an Opposition Member of Parliament affiliated to the Druze religious sect, a critic of the Syrian government’s interference in Lebanese domestic affairs.

In February, the de facto leader of the Opposition and former PM Raffik Hariri was killed in a massive blast in the re-constructed downtown area of Beirut - an area of post-war psychological importance because it stands between the predominantly Christian eastern suburbs and the mainly Moslem western ones and is therefore a neutral meeting place for all sects in the new, post-war society.

Since the murder of Hariri, a Sunni who had also fallen foul of the Syrian dictatorship next door, the bombings between March and September of this year have affected the mainly Christian-inhabited areas of the country - perhaps the most fertile region for anti-Syrian sentiment in all of Lebanon.

Lebanese law officially recognizes seventeen religious-based communities - eleven Christian, by far the largest of which is the Maronite Catholic community, five Muslim and one Jewish.

Because the attacks between March and September have taken place within the areas historically home to the ancient Maronites, that is Mount Lebanon, and in east Beirut which is where a majority of Christians in the capital live, I asked people in these areas about their own views and feelings on the bombings and how it affects their lives.

Family home of the Bou Saab family, Dhour Choueir village, Mount Lebanon
***************


Peoples’ individual responses struck me as remarkably bereft of personalized fear. People offered their own analyses of the likely political motivations behind the explosions as if they were putting their thoughts together for an essay on some faraway country’s political challenges.

Some rejected completely the idea that this was a concerted attack on Christians, noting that a number of the bombings appear to have been designed to deliver maximum commercial damage, to hurt morale in the country as a whole as well as to try and intimidate critics of Syria into silence - be they Moslem or Christian.

But the most interesting aspect of peoples’ responses to the question of who has been behind the bombings was, for me, not so much individual analyses, but the common refusal to be personally fazed by the actual bombings themselves.

Of course, it is true, that the combined toll from the recent bombings, averaging about one a month, have not been anything like as injurious to life and limb as a single bad day during the long 1975-1991 period.

But the message to the bomb planters can’t be very encouraging to date if the intent of the bombs had been primarily intended to intimidate anti-Syrian sentiment into silence.

If anything, views in Lebanon against the Syrian dictatorship, a hang-over from the Cold War and dominated as it is by members of the Alawite branch of Islam which is a minority sect in Syria, are hardening.

The Syrian regime, internationally isolated in the face of a unified Security Council demanding answers for any senior Syrian role in the Hariri murder and with few friends among the Sunni establishments that dominate political power in the Arab world, may in any case be on its last legs.

Some Christians even dare to hope that the lack of any bombings in the month of October may be a sign that the administration in Syria now realises that it has a far more immediate task at hand, namely ensuring its own survival in the face of international hostility, a task that would surely only be harmed were the international community to uncover any evidence of Syrian involvement in any Lebanese bombings.

See Also:

  • Chris Ritchie: Power Shifts Rattle Lebanon

  • Want A Memorable OE? - Try Lebanon
  • Chris Ritchie is a former AP Dow Jones reporter

    ENDS

    © Scoop Media

     
     
     
    Top Scoops Headlines

     


    Keith Rankin: Science, Scientists, And Scientism
    Science, in the not-so-recent-past, has often had a bad press. It's been personified, particularly by the political left, as Frankenstein, as agents of capitalism, classical liberalism, colonialism, sexism (yang over yin), eugenics, and god-like pretension. More recently though, in the zeitgeists of climate change awareness and covid, it's had an unusually good press; although we retain this persistent worry that viruses such as SARS-Cov2 may be the unwitting or witting result of the work of careless or evil scientists... More>>

    Dunne Speaks: Can ACT's Dream Run Continue?

    By most reckonings the ACT Party has had a very successful political year. Not only has its expanded Parliamentary team settled in well to its work, without controversy or scandal, but its leader has gained in community respect, and the party’s support, at least according to the public opinion polls, has increased sharply... More>>

    Keith Rankin: Basic Universal Income And Economic Rights
    "Broad growth is only going to come when you put money in the hands of people, and that's why we talk about a Universal Basic Income". [Ritu Dewan, Indian Society of Labour Economics]. (From How long before India's economy recovers, 'Context India', Al Jazeera, 31 Oct 2021.) India may be to the 'Revolution of the twenty-first century' that Russia was to the 'Revolution of the twentieth century'... More>>



    Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

    Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>

    Globetrotter: Why Julian Assange’s Inhumane Prosecution Imperils Justice For Us All

    When I first saw Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison, in 2019, shortly after he had been dragged from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, he said, “I think I am losing my mind.”
    He was gaunt and emaciated, his eyes hollow and the thinness of his arms was emphasized by a yellow identifying cloth tied around his left arm... More>>

    Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
    If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>