The head of the Maronite church leads mass on Holy Thursday inside Lebanon’s most notorious prison every year.
Twelve Christian inmates are selected from Roumieh Prison’s general population to receive communion. Maronite Patriach Bechara Rai washes their feet as Jesus Christ did for his disciples, described in the Gospel of John.
Roumieh Prison is situated in the mountains just north of Beirut. The facility is overcrowded, and falls short of the UN’s minimum standards for prisons. A cell block that houses members of ISIS and other extremist groups is off-limits to prison officials.
Thousands took to the streets of Beirut on Sunday to demand redress for many issues facing women in Lebanon.
The march, which marked International Women’s Day, brought together women, migrant workers and activists from over a dozen NGOs.
They called for gender equality, LGBTQ rights, migrant worker rights and repeal of the kafala system.
The causes were diverse, with some carrying signs about the plight of women in Syria. But the anger at injustices against women and minorities, was shared.
“If your feminism isn’t intersectional, don’t bother,” read one sign.
“I will smile when you stop raping us,” read another.
By Antoine Abou-Diwan
Beirut may soon be the only city on the Mediterranean that does not have a public beach.
Most of the Lebanese capital’s coast has been developed into private beach clubs and resorts, making it inaccessible to most of the public due to expensive entry fees.
Ramlet al-Baida, commonly known as Beirut’s last public beach, is under development.
A small patch of sand near the famous Raouche (pigeon rocks), Ramlet al-Baida has been, for decades, a place for working class families to relax and swim.
Those days appear to be numbered. Construction has begun, and the Eden Rock Resort is slated to open in 2018.
The Dalieh, just south of the Raouche, may be next. The rocky outcropping has long been a place for working class families to picnic on its hills, swim in its pools and for fishermen to make a living.
But a fence went up a few years ago and construction machinery has been moved in.
Activists have filed a number of legal challenges, delaying construction, but if the rest of Lebanon’s coast is any indication, the odds in the long run are very much against them.
The Mar Mansour church, just south of Beirut’s Martyr’s Square, is boarded up and locked year round.
The building was heavily damage during Lebanon’s civil war. Its exterior is pockmarked with bullet holes. Sections have been knocked out. Its interior has been stripped.
But for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul in Lebanon, this building represents hope. The organization is trying to raise funds to rehabilitate it. And this year, one week before Easter, they unlocked the gate, brought in lights, set up some chairs, and held a prayer service.
By Antoine Abou-Diwan
Thousands filled the streets in downtown Beirut starting mid-2015 through 2016 in protest against a political class that they say is corrupt, and a government that is unable to provide basic services.
The protests began in reaction to a trash crisis caused by the closure of the Naameh landfill.
Without an alternative place for the trash, the waste company Sukleen suspended operations, leading to tons of stinking garbage to pile up in the streets.
The grassroots movement “You Stink” sprang up in response to the trash crisis. It eventually spawned other campaigns calling for government accountability, the resignation of long-time politicians and an overhaul of the entire system.
Most protests were peaceful. Some turned violent, with police beating protesters, and using water cannons and teargas to disperse crowds.
The government has since opened two landfills, and trash collection has resumed. But a long-term, sustainable waste management plan is nowhere on the horizon.