“Welcome to Lebanon” they tell me…

8:01pm: I hear gunshots in the distance while waiting for a taxi outside Taboo in Downtown

8:07pm: I get in the taxi, and the driver asks me if I heard the gunshots..I say “yes, but are you sure they aren’t fireworks?” (apparently I have yet to know the difference, and was secretly hoping that they were fireworks..) “No,” he says, “They definitely weren’t fireworks.” I feel like an idiot.

8:36pm: I receive a message from an American friend of mine who knows I work in Downtown that reads, “Um, mini war near downtown. be advised.”

8:43pm: I post on twitter, “Heard some gun shots when i was in downtown a couple of minutes ago, and now I hear there is a mini war? Any info ppl?”

8:58pm: I get a couple of responses from friends, as well as this, “Daniiiiii “war” is a big word… Don’t worry enjoy ur evening there’s nothing big :))” I feel like an idiot, again.

9:03pm: I respond, “thats what my friend called it..a “mini” war.. 😉 didn’t mean to add fire to the flame! should have said “clash.” sorry.”

9:04pm – 12:00am: I keep checking twitter, Naharnet, and Now Lebanon for updates.  I’ve never heard of al-Ahbash, The Association of Islamic Charitable Projects.  I still don’t know what triggered the fight.  There were rumors that it started because of protests over Lebanon’s electricity crisis.

9:12am: I find out the clash began as as an argument over a parking spot. Three people are dead, and many are injured.

9:15am: I walk into the office, and talk to some of my co-workers about last night’s events. “Welcome to Lebanon,” they tell me.

This one was a little too close for comfort.



Filed under life in Lebanon

26 responses to ““Welcome to Lebanon” they tell me…

  1. People who have lived here know that it never escalates past the quarrel – just head out in the other direction and forget about it.
    It’s like there is a sort of catharsis because we have lived through so many of these little clashes and experienced worse that “small” things like these are just ignored. Don’t let it worry you too much, just know how to get around it if anything begins.

    • meinlebanon

      Thanks for the reassuring words, but I can’t say I “know how to get around” just yet..and not having a car doesn’t make that any easier! Good thing I wasn’t in the heat of it all! I wouldn’t have known where to go! :/

  2. Just another night out in Beirut.

    It really is…

  3. Yeah, just a regular tuesday night. These things happen a lot and the reasons are getting sillier and sillier.
    Also: http://twitpic.com/2hymgn it was too close for me too.

    • meinlebanon

      OMG! That bullet hit your balcony? Not cool, not cool at all… What is wrong with people!! And during Ramadan to boot?

  4. Just think of it as a gang fight in NY. It happens. People have guns. People die. The next day things go back to normal. It’s tragic but luckily, it doesn’t happen everyday. In fact, in the past 7 months that I’ve been here, this is the first time a clash like that took place.

  5. JimRamK

    Don’t forget that we live in a land of irony. We have lots of people with big egos and small minds. This group happened to be armed to the teeth and provoked HA. Not a very good move.

  6. I loved your post, I liked the timeline 🙂
    I remember when freinds from Saudia visited me 10 years ago. At their first night here, Israel made an air raid just close to where I live. they woke up in panic asking what’s going on?? I said: naaah, it’s just Israeli jets hitting targets for Hezbollah, wanna go to the roof for better view??

    The next morning my guests went back to Jeddah.
    Ouh well, that’s Lebanon..

    • meinlebanon

      Still amazes me how desensitized you are to it all! Obviously I still haven’t gotten used to it!

      Glad you liked the time line..Couldn’t think of any better way to put it..

  7. Dar El Akhdar

    It’s narrow-minded people like this that give religion a bad name… I mean seriously: RPG battles, DURING RAMADAN, over a parking spot?!

    But then again, with the lack of urban planning and the ghettoisation of Beirut, a difficult day of fast and weapons available in every household like Tic Tacs, should we be surprised?

  8. From my dad’s memories about Beirut, i imagined it like the definition of LIFE. and when one is happy, smiling, partying, enjoying life.. they say: welcome to Lebanon.

    I visited Lebanon three times so far and loved it.. felt it was a piece of my heart right away.. didnt stay more than 4 days each time though..

    I believe people need to relax more often..

    • meinlebanon

      Lebanon is like how you described it most of the time..but when these things happen it is a reminder of how quickly things can go sour..I hope that nothing more comes of this clash..

  9. mariam

    When I was 7- every time fireworks went off I would jump to my balcony and check war didn’t erupt. Though I’ve never seen war- in Lebanon it was my biggest fear. I got lucky in my 5 years there and never saw anything even clashes- I was lucky enough always not to be in Lebanon during those.

    Sorry, you’re seeing this side of Lebanon.

    • meinlebanon

      You have to take the good with the bad, right Mariam? Thanks for your comment, glad you never had to experience any clashes or wars..

  10. i dont know how long you’ve been in Leb but by now you should get used to the fact that every day you will meet or learn about a new religious/political sect you’ve never heard of & reasons of how clashes begin will become sillier by the day (they’re running out of scenarios to come up with ; a parking spot , whats next ? somebody ate another persons doritos ?)
    And dont worry about differentiating between fireworks and bullets , even when i hear fireworks i double check because ull never know what happens….

  11. didie

    hehehe Jad Fahs! this doritos thing made my day!
    as for the clash, i just hope there won’t be any other cause i’m in leb in just a few days. at least guys of hezb, ahbash and the billion groups we’ve heard of before or not, plz let me come in and i won’t mind being forced to stay longer 😉
    dani your blog rocks, as usual 😀

  12. Annie

    I’m Lebanese and grew up in Lebanon during the war. Now I live in Cincinnati Ohio and you know what? I take war over crime any day of the week. Here you hear about muggings, rape, murder every day. You don’t feel safe even in your own house. My sister was mugged on her way home from University. At least during a war you know where to hide and you know it will eventually end 🙂

    About the fireworks/gunshot, I still have problems telling them apart lol, so don’t feel bad about that

    • Mom

      I have a question for your readers, based on this comment. It would imply that in Lebanon you might have “clashes” off and on, but you don’t have to deal with a lot of the common crime you find in big cities in the US. Is this true?

      • Actually, we do have to put up with a lot of crime. But unlike in the states, the police force here can actually beat up people without repercussions which is why people avoid problems. But the crime we have is a lot more low key, no daily drive-by shootings that is for sure.

        That is not saying we don’t have crime levels – we do – but the government keeps tabs to make sure that the general public don’t know how bad it is. Which I think is why people are so care free despite the clashes going on.

      • Annie

        There’s a significant difference in the rate of crime in Beirut vs US cities. Yasmine, I don’t know if you’ve lived in the US, but in my neighborhood here there are 2-3 incidents (usually armed theft, assault, or breaking and entering) that happen every night. While in Beirut I’ve heard of a few incidents of theft in the past 10 years.

  13. Mom

    Interesting comments from all of your readers …

    Again, I am so happy that you are keeping up with your blog Danielle. What a wonderful record this is going to be of your time in Lebanon … of the good and the not so good. First impressions are always special so it is great that you are able to capture so many of them. The next time you experience something (regardless of whether it’s a new food, cultural awakening, hailing a taxi for the first time, or a political / religious “clash”) it’s never quite the same.

    And I have to tell you, after reading this I think I won’t mind so much trying to find parking in a mall the week before Christmas – at least those fights don’t involve guns … just a few mean looks, curse words and perhaps a honk or two !!

  14. hii, i guess you’re having so much fun in Lebanon. 😛
    God help us

  15. every day in my life i love LEBANON more and more!

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