Sunday, March 20, 2005

Downtown is Down

I recieved a mass-forwarded email today and I think it carries a valid point and needs exposure, so I'm going to paste it's contents here. It's quite lengthy so I took liberty in truncating it:

>>To Whom It May Concern...
>>In the last couple days, we have heard press releases of meetings
>>between
>>the owners of cafés, restaurants and shops in the downtown district. It
>>seems that in the process of honoring and mourning the loss of Rafik al
>>Harriri, regular patrons to the district have shied away due to the
>>close
>>proximity of its restaurants and cafés to the burial site of Rafik
>>Harrir
>>and Martyrs square, a sight that has become associated with
>>demonstrations
>>and more importantly, mourning. This is clearly understandable and an
>>honorable show of respect for the deceased and his family, as well as a
>>show of solidarity with the current national sentiment.
>>However, at a disheartening five percent of regular levels, the
>>reduction
>>of visitors to downtown is having an invisible but very dangerous and
>>distressing effect. If the situation remains unchanged, the owners of
>>businesses in downtown will be forced to close down their
>>establishments.
>>Already, the number of employees has been slashed in half to cope with
>>the
>>freeze of incoming funds. Not out of sympathy with the owners of
>>businesses
>>in the district, but out of solidarity with and consideration for the
>>100s
>>of employees, most of whom are students, working as waiters or salesmen
>>in
>>order to help their parents pay for their education and livelihood, I
>>somberly urge the Lebanese to return to downtown.
>>Those who have reverted to dining in restaurants and café's or shopping
>>in
>>malls and boutiques further away from downtown, chose these distant
>>locations because they believe it is disrespectful, unpatriotic and
>>unsympathetic to dine or shop near the grave of Rafik al Harriri. But we
>>must weigh the issue of respect with the unnecessary burden placed on
>>the
>>shoulders of these young employees when they are stripped of their jobs
>>and
>>their livelihood. For the sake of solidarity and unity of all Lebanese,
>>for
>>the sake of patriotism and the economic welfare of Lebanon, and for the
>>sake of respect for a Lebanese hero, we must ensure that no Lebanese
>>must
>>suffer any additional hardships at this time. It is not right, nor is it
>>fair. Though it is difficult, we, the Lebanese people as a whole, must
>>change our perceptions and make it not only acceptable, but patriotic
>>and
>>commendable to return to downtown.
>>We must also remember that Rafik al Harriri dedicated much of his life
>>to a
>>cause. He did not work to simply renovate downtown, his efforts were an
>>attempt to bring the district, the heart of Beirut, back to life.
>>Without
>>its patrons, and without its economic viability, Rafik al Harrir's dream
>>will have died.
>>We have begun circulation of a sms message calling for the Lebanese to
>>show
>>their respect for Harriri through ensuring the continuation of his dream
>>of
>>a lively and bustling downtown representative of Lebanon and the
>>Lebanese.
>>The sms reads as:
>>"Are we shy? We are all going out, but no longer to down town! Why not?
>>The
>>heart of Beirut that Harriri rebuilt and loved; lets keep it alive and
>>not
>>allow the killers to kill him twice... Make sure you take your family
>>down
>>town. See you there. Please forward to all..."
>> Any help you can provide in conveying the sentiment of this letter or
>>the reasons behind the sms message to the Lebanese people would be
>>greatly
>>appreciated. It is unjust that Lebanese working in downtown must pay
>>this
>>price, and it is a shame that we let the area die. We can help these
>>employees, save the area, and still respect our deceased hero. Thank you
>>for your time and understanding.

2 Comments:

Blogger Eve said...

I recieved the same email a while ago. to tell you the truth, when I passed through Downtown a couple of weeks ago, I was shocked. I never imagined it to be that empty. I felt sad as well. I don't think even Hariri would have hoped for that. If people think they are honoring his memory this way, they are, in reality, harming the economy, and Lebanon.

11:45 PM, March 20, 2005  
Blogger linalone said...

Hi,
I agree with you completely. I stopped going to the downtown for two weeks after the Assassination of Mr Hariri. But after that, i passed by there twice or three time a week as i have always time. I think it is as safe as anywhere else in Beirut or regions, the explosion of New Jdayde is a perfect example about that. We must continue to go there, foreign people will be encouraged to go there and to go back to lebanon and to the heart of Beirut when they see and hear that lebanese are not afraid of going there. So let 's all go there. Let's at least fix a date and invite each of us all our friends to go there on this special date. I will be glad to receive news about it.

11:51 PM, March 20, 2005  

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