Adonis Diaries

Testimonials of a civil war: What happened in Ashrafieh (Lebanon)? 

Posted on: October 22, 2008

Testimonials of Lebanon civil war 1975-1991: What happened in Ashrafieh (Lebanon)? 

The issues of daily Al Balad, April 14 and 15, 2005

Ashrafieh is on the hilly part of East Beirut, surrounded by highways on all sides, and cut by a major artery that divides it into two main regions.

This district of Beirut was originally inhabited by Christian Oriental Orthodox, and slowly middle class Christian Maronite families moved in and constituted the majority before the civil war.  Ashrafieh is famous for its labyrinths of narrow streets, of mainly one directional ways, and tall buildings that overlook most of Beirut.

This region was crowded with gang members exhibiting machismo trends.  The gang members packed places of flippers and pool games. Mafia-type groups, enjoying the backing of the Lebanese internal intelligence agencies called the “Second Bureau”, were setting the rules in the streets. They rode motorcycles and red American convertibles and wore white suits and mafia hats.

Western young girls, picked from bordellos in El Zeitouny area, were exhibited in the convertible cars of these Mafiosos. The militias of the Christian “Lebanese Forces” would later displace these gangs and transfer them to the demarcation lines going as far as Ain Rumany and Furn Chebak.

Many families suffered irreversible psychological injuries because no specialized centers existed for cases that could be rehabilitated.

Many feel lucky to be alive and thus consider that anything less than death must be a superficial damage not worth confessing about.  The mother of Hani stated that her child could not sleep without pills and kept trembling in her arms for long time since the end of the war.

Samira, now 45 years of age, lost her parents and never felt the urge to return to her home. Mohamad, of 40 years now, lost his eldest son and goes into fits whenever he hears a loud noise.

In his book “Streets war”, Charles Chehwan describes an event of two football (soccer) players finishing a tough game under pouring rain and then screeching their car on the highway toward the war front and having a quick fuck with a girl before reaching destination.

There was a group of fighters who shaved their heads and wore priest cloth who joined the Phalanges Party.

A guy named Zorro drove a black Mercedes convertible and carried a silver shining revolver. Another guy named Kosov was a fan of Che Guevara.  A gangster formed the “Death squad” which located in an old house by a major school and hired an American Kong Fu trainer. This gangster became filthy rich and would usually drive, forwarded by a band of motorcyclists.  A famous soccer player got ever more famous in battles and amassed riches.

A renowned 100 m sprinter turned into an ugly killer and forced tribute on his neighborhood.

Those who tortured prisoners were mostly handymen, ironworkers, wood craftsmen and butchers.

One circus professional committed atrocities in Karantina, a very poor neighborhood adjacent to the Phalange Party main headquarter, while he exhibited utmost kindness, politeness and modesty in his social surrounding.  Many students wore pistols dangling from large belts, long leather overcoats and cowboy boots.

Girls started to accompany their boyfriends to the war fronts. University graduates, especially engineers, were given the task of manning canons and thus, the Christian Maronites raised the slogan of “Quality versus quantity”. It was common to wear a large wooden cross, let the hair grow tall and have long beard.

Leftists had to leave Ashrafieh and move to West Beirut.

In this confessional war, the Christian militias made St. Charbel and Saint Mary appear in different places, simultaneously,  and on many occasions. Obviously the Palestinian was made the nemesis and the devil; he was the unfaithful, the dirty, the one who sold his homeland and honor.

During this war no verbal or written culture chanted or honored the martyrs in the Christian cantons as was very common in West Beirut.

All schools were transformed into barracks for training fighters and old houses for partying and having good time.


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October 2008

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