Monday, September 16, 2013

Lebanon’s celebratory gunfire culture

By Justin Salhani
BEIRUT, Lebanon – Bayan Bibi was strolling through one of Beirut’s shopping districts last Saturday evening when an object fell from the sky and hit her in the back. The object was a bullet.

In Lebanon, and elsewhere in the Middle East, a gun fired in the air can be ubiquitous with weddings, funerals or when a popular politician delivers a rousing speech.

On Saturday, Amal leader Nabih Berri was delivering a speech on the 35th anniversary of party founder Imam Moussa al-Sadr’s disappearance. Gunfire could be heard emanating from the streets in close proximity to Amal’s green flag clad office by the Beirut seafront. The bullet that struck Bibi is likely to have come from someone celebrating Berri’s speech.

“When there is joy or sorrow people shoot their guns,” said Ali Moussa, 38, an Amal member, outside Amal’s Ain al-Mraisse office in Beirut. “It has a long history here and in the region.”

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