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Resorting to fiction to understand Beirut

Yasser al-Ghaslan

Published: Updated:

There are a lot of times when I prefer to be alone to contemplate the hundreds of scenes and photos circulating through the media of faraway arenas cramped with thousands of souls and millions of eyes that await departing this life as a result of a violence of an unjust lion and of sectarian and racial malice. I inquire then I stop then I think and then I stop again...Then I recall and then I stop...Before I know it, I am taken over by a shudder, the sensitivity of time and the nausea of the humanitarian absurdity and its ability to look history in the eye and boldly and premeditatedly repeat the same mistakes in the same methods only to show every man who still enjoys some of his humanity that humans have been born for not learning from history and ignoring its lessons.


‘Beirut 1982’


A while ago I read the novel Beirut 1982 by Ghassan Shabaro. It narrates the life of the Lebanese people during that year which witnessed the Israeli invasion of Beirut and the expulsion of the liberation organization’s forces from it. It also narrates what came after such as the assassination of President Bashir Gemayel and its repercussions including the Sabra and Shatila massacre. I found many debatable discussions and political logics that pitifully resemble what is happening today in our world which still thinks that wars and sowing divisions among the sons of one country are the only means to serve the interests of nations and their people.


Resorting to fiction


Perhaps resorting to fiction in those calm contemplative circumstances and keeping away from arguments and daily tensions is the best decision for those like me who see nothing in the reality around them other than the humanitarian absurdity and the repetition of shameful experiences of a history that humans have learnt nothing from. Beirut which was torn apart by sectarianism, political affiliations and bidding made Lebanon today like it was before the civil war, a state that has not politically and economically developed and that did not make one step towards becoming a civilized country.

Beirut which was torn apart by sectarianism, political affiliations and bidding made Lebanon today like it was before the civil war, a state that has not politically and economically developed

Yasser al-Ghaslan

Talk of quotas, partisanship and sects remained a basis for this state that seems to have become addicted to the language of divisions. Some of those surrounding us attempt to turn this talk into a real novel entitled The Gulf 2013 to witness events coming from what they tell us and what they tell all the segments of our close surrounding under the excuse of establishing a non-sectarian country. However, they have drowned in their sectarianism to the extent that it has become clear where they are heading to and whom they are loyal to. He who calls for unity does not call for divisions, and he who attempts to achieve justice does not tyrannize his rival neither through words nor through actions.


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Yasser al-Ghaslan has worked as a reporter and editor in several Saudi newspapers and is the founder of themedianote.com, a website focusing on Arab media issues. He currently works at the Gulf Organization for Industrial Consulting in Doha. He can be followed on Twitter: @alghaslan.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.