one of the last vestiges of Ain el Mreisseh is about to fall prey to ruthless ‘development’. its roof is being dismantled and a high rise will be standing
in its place soon unless we act to prevent further bulldozing of our history.
The Association for the Protection of the Lebanese Heritage has notified the Ministry of Culture and is waiting for a reply in the next 36 hours to know if the demolition will be halted and the house saved.
To all supporters, members, admins of cultural groups: Save Beirut Heritage,
Le Mouvement Des Jeunes, the Green Party, every heritage-related group and
organization, we are notifying you that, should the Ministry of Culture be non responsive, you are invited to join us to make a stand against this ongoing cultural massacre, in a sit-in in front of the house, at a date which we’ll communicate to you.
Local and international press is urged to cover this stand
and show that despite the absence of government, there’s a collective and
responsible will to preserve and protect Lebanon’s memory for the sake of our future and that of our descendence.
STAY TUNED to ‘Stop Destroying Your Heritage’ and to www.protect-lebaneseheritage.com/blog
We know it’s a short notice but this is an emergency where we’re together to prevent historical and cultural murder.
in lebanon there’s an obvious will by the governmental institutions to do
nothing. or to actively pursue projects that have nothing to do with public will or social need of the lebanese people. add to that, the frenzied and neurotic way the lebanese go about their business, trying to pay for that new car, or taking that ‘technology loan’ to indulge in an iPad or absolutely wanting to get those 400$ jeans with a 1000$ salary. the result is a general public that is oblivious to what’s happening around them because they’re busy buying plastic, stupid shiny gizmos
and wasting their life at the mall or the local narguileh lounge. this leaves carte blanche to governmental institutions to cut private deals, help themselves and basically do whatever increases their fortune to the detriment of their country’s future, in typical 3rd world mentality. the current regional unrest only encourages these people (and the public as well) to spiral further down in chaos.
between 2 brackets, Japan, currently in a lamentable state following a devastating series of quakes and a tsunami, is a remarkable (but not surprising) example of organization and civilization amidst chaos. nowhere in the torn down streets do we see armed gangs roaming the streets looting shops and taking advantage of the situation. shops in isolated areas still operate normally and are still secure because the people are civilized enough to know that they count on those shops to receive a stream of supplies for their community. they havent lost the concept of hierarchy with this deadly tsunami, their discipline is something we dont see anywhere else (save maybe in scandinavia or some parts of europe that arent tainted by foreign immigration).
let something like this happen in any other country and its so called civilized people would revert to animal behavior in no time. forgive this digression but i felt it
was worthy of note to show the contrast between us and real civilizations with real discipline. it’s to show that we’re already behaving worse than animals (animals dont trash their environment, lie, backstab or do politics) without the need for a tsunami or a 9.0 quake.
anyway, my suggestion is this; NGO’s in lebanon, need to consolidate their efforts into one common ‘front’, manned by private individuals (those same individuals who founded those organizations) and with their PR abilities, sponsors, foreign aids, private funds, and different resources, undertake the reconstruction of Lebanon under one ‘super organization’, with its many sub-organizations being the respective NGO’s of this new ‘coalition’ and handling their respective tasks of rebuilding the sectors they’re specialized in.
whoever reads this and finds flaws in this suggestion, is invited to point them out and to help find ways of remedying them.
i believe this is perhaps the only viable option to have a semblance of organization
since the NGO’s are mostly disciplined enough and motivated in contrast to a rotten and absent government who’s only busy getting cuts on development deals in beirut ad strategic estival areas.
I’ve been regularly taking the bus to Beirut since 2004. i get to witness the behavior of (most of) lebanese comfortably sitting with their windows shut, latte in hand, smartphone in the other, and somehow managing to get to work in one piece.
the crushing majority of those people are alone in their car. the crushing majority of them drive an SUV. yet i’m sure they all tune in to Earth Hour or are on some facebook pro-environment group. if you tell the average lebanese that the air in beirut is polluted, they wouldnt really ‘get’ what you’re trying to say since they drive with their windows shut, and their car’s A/C or air purifier takes care of the rest so they arrive to their cubicle unaware with what they just passed through on their way to work.
lebanese are islands. they get by with an apparent indifference to the ecological shift happening around them (and which they are causing). yet they still manage to show healthy amounts of outrage whenever environmental deterioration is shown on the TV (namely the mountain of trash of karantina, or saida). students drive to the university in their SUV’s to present their environmental sciences (taken as a free elective) group project where they flaunt the merits of going for maritime traffic. there are infinitely simpler solutions to pollution, my dear islands. you just need to leave your overblown ego at home and take the bus or ride a bicycle for a change. or walk for 1 or 2 km a day. you’d notice what heavy traffic is doing to your city and air. taking common transportation will mean dividing your commuting time by at least 4. instead, the lebanese prefer to whine about how long it takes them to get to work. but to do something about it?? are you crazy? you want people NOT to see my new 4×4?? what about my PRESTIGE? my STANDING? maybe in 5 years you’ll tell your gas mask-wearing kids you had to sacrifice the oxygen and environment for your prestige. where i work, we have entry level employees earning between 1100 and 1400$ driving 35000$ cars and paying 100$ a month worth of parking fees. they have the latest iPhone with 648 925 apps. they all make sure they shut down their cellphones and computers during Earth Hour so they feel good about themselves. hey, we just protected the environment! they congratulate themselves while warming up their SUV. dear young lebanese, you must realize what you’re doing and take active measures to reverse this catastrophic environmental course. it’s your quality of life that’s at stake, and that of your kids. before demanding the abolition of the confessional system, make a move for the sake of your health and leave your cars at home for weekend use.
our website is almost done and will be online hopefully this week. JH has made some illustrated backgrounds for the site but needs some help in coloring them (preferably on adobe illustrator). if someone can help, kindly contact us to receive the illustrated series. since the job is pro bono, there’s no deadline, and as soon as JH finds some time to spare, he’ll finish coloring whatever is still left. there are 9 detailed illustrations to color and a helping hand is more than appreciated. involved individuals will be credited on the site’s ‘friends’ page. Danke!
Saving traditional houses and archeological monuments takes more than a bunch of determined individuals to make a change.
the ingredients are many but they roughly involve:
1-a political will to save those buildings (and that would translate itself automatically into laws/decrees/decisions to protect and rehabilitate said buildings)
2-a public, civil responsibility that has enough civic sense to demand for those buildings to be saved, in the case of a flaccid government. a public cultivated enough would shout out at the atrocities committed and demand immediate change. young students, educated people ought to squat in one of those doomed old houses and camp in them and youtubing their stay for as long as needed to draw the attention of the world and hopefully, the Lebanese ministry of culture or the -actually powerless- department of archeology (DGA) or the DGU (department of urban studies).
if the government had a will to save this country’s heritage we wouldnt be seeing beirut streets suffocated by towers overloading those streets’ infrastructure. we wouldnt be seeing classified old houses being demolished AT NIGHT, we wouldnt be seeing an ottoman theater being torn down in tripoli by a corrupt deputy under cover of the rotten municipality of tripoli.
if the government had a will to save Lebanon’s heritage, it would have enacted a law to protect that heritage.
This group here wouldnt be needed in the first place and we’d be spending our time and money on us for a change.
this group wouldnt be doing the most desperate thing which is asking people from all around the world to donate enough money to buy out just one house, restore it into a publicly owned edifice to show the naysayers that private, individual will, when combined, can result into positive action if it’s given a direction.
we wouldnt be needing donations because those buildings and old streets would be protected by law…
People of Lebanon, arent you SUFFOCATED? we ask you to Dare. to look around for a minute. young people, educated lebanese, dont just receive your diploma and jump on the first plane to your new job abroad.. your memory is fading at the hands of ruthless developers. in 5 years what will you be showing your children? the mall will be their only passtime.
Lettres Du Liban, is a collection of thoughts, and articles written with a unique blend of virulence, sarcasm, humor and nostalgia, with a pinch of philosophy here and there for those who can appreciate; and it’s all about Lebanon, its people and their silliness yet, the writer, Ibrahim Tayan, is Lebanese to the core and simply lets out his lashing critique out of heartburn induced by the inability of the Lebanese to learn from past mistakes. for those who read french, this is not to be missed. cheers.