Beirut: Syrian Workers Remove the Rubble From the “Aounian Republic”

Hazem El Amin
Lebanese Writer and Journalist
August 6, 2020
Syrian workers who have been, for many years, the target of hatred that amounted to racism by a Lebanese political party, were among the first to participate in removing the rubble.

For a man like me, whose daily life was destroyed by the explosion, from Achrafieh to Gemmayzeh and Mar Mikhael to his work headquarters in Al Kantari, to wake up and head the second morning after the blast to inspect the wreckage of friends’ houses, neighborhoods, and streets, then notice that Syrian workers have begun to remove the rubble from the streets, it is difficult then to ignore the paradox presented by this scene. Syrian workers who have been, for many years, the target of hatred that amounted to racism by a Lebanese political party, were among the first to participate in removing the rubble.

But that is not the paradox. The event, the blast, is a typically “Aounian” event. It happened during Aoun’s term, under a government in which the Aounians are a majority, and most importantly, the explosion took place in a facility headed by an Aounian official. The blast is Aounian, and the task of removing the rubble is carried out by the opponents of Aounians, i.e. Syrian workers and refugees! This paradox is hard to miss in the morning of the third day of the explosion.

They did what they did without any remorse. They hate us, they hate Syrian workers and refugees, hate Beirut, and hate life in Al-Hamra and in Mar Mikhael, because they are a space for young men and women who do not resemble them, just as the tragedy of Syrians with their country and regime does not resemble them.

We are not talking here about a worker at a workshop that came to get paid for his work. In Lebanon, no one today can pay a worker. It may have been a promise to pay, or a job done in return for a meal. But here we most certainly see workers who feel they have a duty to take part in removing the rubble, and in a scene where neutrality cannot be maintained. This is what they feel this morning, and this must be recorded in the light of an irrefutable fact: We have seen a near-nuclear explosion as we live under the rule of the Aounian Republic.

Going back to the idea of hatred towards the Syrians, refugees or workers, has another function at a moment when Beirut approached, during the Aounian rule, a similar fate to that of Hiroshima, and it is once again a return to the reality of the spoils the Aounian ministers and managers collected from international aid intended for refugees, while at the same time launching a racist campaign against them. Today, the scene is marked by the fact that the corruption of the authorities, and the allegiance of the Aounians and their leaders to the corrupt class caused this explosion, which is unprecedented on our planet since Hiroshima.

Syrian workers will remove the rubble caused by the deterioration and corruption of the Aounian administration! Which is more useful for Lebanon? You cannot avoid this question when you wake up in the morning and go to the stricken streets after a night of bottling up anger. Our feelings are more likely to be our way to relieve the tension. This is what a woman in Beirut said. She goes to the bank everyday, and takes out her anger on the manager and employees for withholding her savings. “I do it instead of going to a psychiatrist to help me with anger management,” she said. We must scream in the face of this ugly authority all we feel about it, very bluntly, without evasion or insinuation.

They did what they did without any remorse. They hate us, they hate Syrian workers and refugees, hate Beirut, and hate life in Al-Hamra and in Mar Mikhael, because they are a space for young men and women who do not resemble them, just as the tragedy of Syrians with their country and regime does not resemble them.

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