Thursday, February 14, 2008

Pick you demo today

Lebanon has always been a country of extremes. Beirut was the only city in the world that had two Hard Rock Cafés, now it can boost it holds two demonstrations simultaneously: either go to the long-planned memorial of Rafiq Hariri or try the daily special and visit the memorial of Imad Mughniyeh who was killed two days ago.

Whatever you choose, don't forget to bring your umbrella and a warm coat because it's cold (9C) and raining. A steady drizzle, almost Dutch-like weather, which is quite unusual for Lebanon...the heavens must be crying.

Despite the expected high turnout for both events, the roads were empty early this morning. Normally the roads would be packed around 8AM, but not today. Hardly anyone who has no business of attending, stays at home, safely tucked away behind the TV screens. It sure helps that the Siniora government has asked all businesses and schools to close down, but even without such a call, the Lebanese would not have taken any chances.

Rightfully so, because you never know what will happen. All it takes are a few rioters to turn the streets into a battlezone. Unfortunately, we have witnesses too many occassions during the last two years, let alone the Civil War which is still fresh in the memory of many people.

To give you an impression of how empty the roads are, see below pics that were taken roughly at 8:00AM. Normally, the roads would be busy with commuters and parents dropping their kids off at school:

Photo 1: Bliss Street, empty, wet, sad...

Photo 2: The Corniche, equally empty. Only a few pedestrians defy the rain and wind

Photo 3: An early bird going to the Hariri demo!