I slept late on Sunday having spent the two nights before being “culturally acclimated” to the nightclub scene in fashionable Monot, the trendy party spot right on the former Green Line that separated East Beirut from West Beirut during the 15 year civil war. Too tired to do anything touristy, Toni and I were deciding how to spend the day when suddenly he reported that there had been a bombing at the Future TV station.
“Let’s go!” I grabbed my camera and we caught a service to Raouche where I caught the tail end of a press conference with Minister of Culture Ghazi el-Aridi. I took some pictures of the damage, a huge hole in the wall, with cameras, office equipment and glass everywhere. Ansar Allah (Supporters of God), a previously unknown group, claimed responsibility for the two 107mm rockets fired from a parked car at 1:30 a.m. Sunday that destroyed part of Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s Future Television building. Many people suspect that the attack was politically motivated. By the time I arrived the holes on the outside wall had already been patched up. But will the attack on the press and free speech be remedied so quickly?
Later that afternoon I made my way over to Bazerkane Square downtown to attend a ceremony with Queen Rania of Jordan who was in Beirut to support the ICRC’s launch of its Women Facing War report in Arabic in Lebanon. “Ana sahafia,” I told a soldier, trying to keep from focusing on the enormous machine gun slung around his shoulder. He let me pass. “Ana sahafia,” I told an imposing man in dark glasses. He waved me to the press box where I stood with photographers from Reuters, AFP and a dozen other media outlets. I, with my tiny little Olympus, surrounded by burly men with massive lenses and two or three cameras each. Finally the Queen arrived, looking like a supermodel, and for the next hour I attempted to keep from getting knocked over as we vied for the perfect picture. Accompanied by first lady Andree Lahoud, Nazek Hariri (the Lebanese Prime Minister’s wife) and Randa Berri (the wife of speaker of parliament), Queen Rania listened to ICRC representatives talk about the need for enforcement of the laws protecting women and men in war, since most of them are already on the books. I only wish that she had spoken and said something in support of the study, instead of just being present as a pretty face.
There is never a dull day in Beirut.
Posted By Courtney Radsch (Lebanon)
Posted Jun 16th, 2003