Lebanese Violence explodes in its nightlife

Its not unusual to see fistfights outside a Night Club, after hours. What's unusual about Lebanon lately is that we are talking about a whole new level of violence. I've been in Beirut for less than 24 hours --and already heard stories that make me wonder: have we begun to turn on each other?

"A group of guys from Amal (Shiite political party led by parliementary president Nabih Berri) tore a picture of Rafik Hariri (Sunni former prime-minister assassinated in 2005) in a Sunni neighborhood. Fights broke out." That was the first story I heard, from my own father, as he drove me home from the airport. I didn't think much of it, it happens a lot.

Later that day, friends told me about all the New Year's eve gossip I had missed the night before. Overbooking at a huge party turned into a bloody fistfight. "A friend told me he was going home because he was covered in blood. No one had hit him, he hadn't hit anyone, he was just covered." No one could tell me what happened exactly. It was chaos, that's all they knew.


A few days before, the biggest, trendiest club in town, Crystal, was controversially raided by Security officers who not only stopped the music and ordered everyone to lay on the floor, but also branded their weapons, terrorizing the clientele. Major Lebanese newspaper reported on the incident. Rumor has it that the raid was ordered by the general director of the General Directorate of General Security --because Crystal was too booked to accomodate his son, Ali, with a table. Naharnet, the website of An Nahar newspaper , reported that 2 security officers and 3 servicemen were arrested on tuesday and that Prime Minister Fouad Saniora asked the Judiciary to investigate.

As if all of this weren't enough, my 14-year-old brother and 17-year-old sister tell me stories of a different generation altogether. Teenagers from highly-privileged backgrounds smashing windows with baseball bats and terrorizing 8-year-old boys. I couldn't verify the facts of these stories but when I asked around, several people had heard about that "violent group of rich teenagers."

So I'm worried. What kind of society have we turned into? Apparently the kind that only resorts to violence. And if that's what the civilians are doing --then what are our politicians going to do next?

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About Yasmina Hatem

Yasmina Hatem was born in Beirut, Lebanon where she spent most of her life. She started writing for a French weekly newspaper for teenagers when she was 15 years old and has been active in journalism ever since. She attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and obtained her Masters of Science in May 2007. She currently lives in New York City and works for Al Arabiya News Channel at the United Nations.

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