This week has witnessed an escalation in the already-intense sectarian “micro”-conflict that’s going on up north in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second-largest city. For those who don’t know, the clashes are centered around two ghettos: Bab al Tabbaneh, which is predominantly Sunni, and Jabal Mohsen, which is composed of Alawites (an offshoot of Shi’a Islam that also happens to be the ruling minority in Syria). Things got more intense with the outbreak of the Syrian Civil War, with the escalation including one of the deadliest bomb attacks these country’s seen since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, and this week’s conflagration, which, sources say, was set off by the assassination of a prominent Alawite figure. But I’m not here to discuss the details of this ordeal.
I always knew that things were bad in Tripoli, but it wasn’t until I read this article that I had an idea of just how bad things really got. There are even reports of heavy sniper fire keeping civilians holed up in their homes, unable to even make a quick trip to the store right below their apartments. That’s not the worst part, though. Most people I know aren’t even talking about this, not even in passing. It’s like violence and sectarianism in this country have become a sort of commodity, hidden in the expired goods section in the back of store-not many people want it, but they won’t stop you from getting your grubby mitts on it. Which brings me to the next point: our famous/infamous Lebanese brand of indifference. We’ve just become so numb and accustomed to all the nonsense (to put it mildly) that this country makes us put up with that we just don’t give a damn anymore, to the point where packing up to travel for good becomes a thrilling endeavor instead of menial drudgery. As ashamed as I am to say this, there are many times where I have fallen into the majority’s mindset without even realizing it or trying to correct my pattern of thought; I guess I really have lived here for too long. The third point to make on Tripoli is essentially an extension of the second: the lack of government interference. If they’re not busy bickering amongst themselves and throwing chairs at each other in parliament, our officials are equals among us in their indifference to the country’s deteriorating state. Oftentimes they’re too scared to so much as raise a finger to diffuse situations, as is summarized by this cartoon, but for the most part they just don’t give a s***.
The chief impediment to our progression as a country and as a people is our apathy to everything that is wrong with this place, most prominent of which is what’s going on in Tripoli right now. If people just got up and went the extra mile to solve all these problems before they even had the chance to take off-or even during their course, then we wouldn’t be complaining about the country and feeling like we’ve accomplished something every time we did. But hey, we’re Lebanese! We can survive this, not to mention we’ve got better things to do, right?
Y’all take care now.
Sources: The Daily Star, Lebanon