Friday, February 16, 2007

War-Weary Beirut Marks Hariri Death With Peaceful Rally

The Independent
By Robert Fisk

So the Lebanese survived. The civil war did not begin. The second anniversary of the murder of former prime minister Rafik Hariri was more a festival than a vow of revenge.

Even the coffee stall and crisps concessions were cheerful. Villagers from what journalists like to call the "hardy warrior race" of the Druze - mountain men from the Chouf - and their families stood shoulder to shoulder with Christian Maronite women in the centre of Beirut to honour the man whose murder provoked a UN Security Council revolution that demanded the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon (dutifully adhered to) and the disarming of the Hizbollah militia (dutifully un-adhered to).

Despite the three deaths in Tuesday's bus bombing in the Metn hills, there were no calls for revenge, no ill will, none of the viciousness that those murders were presumably intended to provoke. Many of the young men quite literally danced in the streets to their own music and families sat in Martyrs' Square - site of the hanging of Lebanese patriots by the Turks in 1915 and 1916 - with picnics...

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