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Letter from Lebanon: Civilians Hope to be Heard

Letter from Lebanon: Civilians Hope to be Heard

Wall of hope.

Column and images by Yasmine Ryan


(BEIRUT – 4 March 2007) – ‘It’s as if we didn’t exist’ laments Zeina Karam, speaking about the indifference the major players in Lebanese politics show towards their fellow citizens. On Saturday, ordinary Lebanese expressed their frustration with the power struggle that continues to be wagged between loosely united pro- and anti-government political alliances.

For once, there were no sign of political symbols and propaganda posters that dominate Beirut’s streets. Instead of the fractionalising yellow, green, the colours of the day were black and white. Not even a Lebanese flag to be seen.

Applause to politicians’ stupidity.

Nizar Ghanem, 23, is angry that ‘our politicians are bringing this country to collapse’. The Nottingham University student asserted that he doesn’t ‘agree with their discourse’, adding that Lebanon should not ‘pay the price for regional differences’. The young were well represented, with students out in force. Others bought their children.

Another print to the wall.

The slogan for the event held at Bechara El Khoury square was ‘Watch Out Politicians! Wake up Citizens!’ It was organised by 12 non-partisan civil organisations acting under the newly formed banner ‘OU3A’. Karam, OU3A spokesperson, says this is the first collective action that the organisations have held. Throughout the day, people passed by to leave a white handprint on a black mural, ‘a message of hope’ to maintain civil peace. At 3pm, the crowd reached a peak of around 200 people. A 10 minute applause was held – it took a while to get the rhythm right – to applaud the irresponsibility of Lebanese politicians.


Yasmine Ryan is a graduate of the University of Auckland, in Political Studies and French language. She is currently interning with a Lebanese newspaper in Beirut, as part of her Masters degree in International Journalism at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques, Aix-en-Provence.


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