In the midst of this political deadlock, some Lebanese are feeling the brunt of these demonstrations/sit-ins more than others. And I am talking about the owners of businesses close the Riad el Solh and Al Azarieh squares, in Down Town Beirut.
Hezbollah’s sit-in made it impossible for many businesses to operate. Most of the night clubs in that area closed (Buddah Bar, Asia, Starlette and Taboo), and the parking lots that is currently housing the protestors’ tents are obviously out of business.
Of course, the welfare of hundreds of employee is not important to Hezbollah and its allies. As they are waging a crusade to rid Lebanon of this corrupt government and replace it with a clean one, which will eventually provide work for every men, women and child, solve all economic problems and enter Lebanon in a beneficial alliance with Iran and Syria!.
Meanwhile, many young Lebanese are emigrating by the hundreds if not thousands; because Hezbollah’s action has just cost them their jobs, or pushed to stop believing that their country will ever enjoy peace and stability!
However, throughout the ages the Lebanese people, have been known to continue on living and working even under the direst of circumstances. And last Saturday, the owner of Taboo, in Down Town Beirut, refused to accept the closer of his pub and decided to reopen it. His usual patrons heeded his call and choose to spend their Saturday night in Taboo.
Many versions describe what happened next; suffice to say that according to the most moderate one, the versions of the sole Lebanese English newspaper the DailyStar, which contacted the owner, reported that a scuffle happened early in the night between a client and some demonstrators. Then demonstrators started to protest angrily outside the pub, Hezbollah’s security intervened and placed a human shield to “protect” the pub.
At two o’clock in the morning, Hezbollah’s security decided that the situation was getting too dangerous and with the consent of the pub’s owner, they escorted all the client and staff to safety. On their way out Hezbollah’s security responsible asked the owner if he wanted to open the pub the next night, the owner sadly answered no.
Meanwhile the other versions spoke about a forceful closer of the pub by Hezbollah’s security, because drinking alcohol and women/men dancing together was against Islam, and the fact that Hezbollah staged the demonstration outside the pub to scare the night goers. Regardless which version we choose to believe the bottom line is that that area of Downtown Beirut is commercially dead, and all the employee that work there are without a job.
Second, it is not the Army or the ISF that are handling the security of that area; it is Hezbollah’s security apparatus. The same apparatus that fought Isreal two months ago, and controlled the southern Suburb of Beirut and many parts of the South, before the war. What are they doing in Downtown Beirut, and whom are they fighting I have no clue…
Finally, many will claim that 14th demonstration in 2005 had the same effect. Well I disagree. I was there in those glorious days and the demonstrations/sit- in took place around Martyr’s Square, which was not a private property, did not affect any business, lead to their forceful, or voluntarily closure.
I clearly remember that Virgin Megastore, which was five meters distant from the place where the 14th of March supporters placed their tents, was constantly open and life in DownTown Beirut’s many restaurant and pub was buzzing.
My answer to all this is that next year, Hezbollah or no Hezbollah I will party in Taboo!