Astonishment. Lebanon is in shock after the explosions in downtown Beirut on Tuesday, which left at least 137 dead and more than 5,000 injured and devastated entire neighborhoods of the capital. Dozens of people are still missing, the search continues, with the help of international reinforcements. Several personalities from the world of Lebanese culture return this Thursday to the tragedy at the microphone of Culture Médias . Like the majority of the population, they are angry and have no understanding.
The incredible shock
"It is very difficult to live this shock. First of all because we experienced it physically and that we still have after-effects", confides Joana Hadjithomas, filmmaker and plastic artist, who was in a cafe at the time of the explosion. "Then the extent of the damage is so unbelievable that we don't know where to start." Her apartment, as well as the studio she shares with her husband Khalil Joreige, were blown away. "We go out in the street, it's like in a disaster movie".
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These artists lived through war. However, the explosion is incredible for them. "I am a child of the war, but it is that we had two days ago, one never knew it. It is beyond comprehension", tells Carole Dagher, political essayist and Lebanese novelist, who is was in Beirut to visit his mother, near the scene of the tragedy. "The damage that took place in our street never happened during the war."
Solidarity and resilience
Entire homes have been destroyed and nearly 300,000 people are left homeless. In a country already weakened by a serious economic crisis, this new misfortune leaves the Lebanese dazed. "The tragedies are linked, linked to the position of the country which seems doomed to instability because of the divergent interests of all the countries which surround us", analyzes the trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf.
In the streets strewn with rubble, mutual aid is organized. "I see tremendous solidarity. People clean the streets, volunteers give people drink. It is also very symbolic of a certain united Lebanon", greets Joana Hadjithomas. "Lebanon is a very resilient country, which has always known how to build and rebuild itself through time and tragedies. In my opinion, there is no other hope to be had than that of accepting the scar, like every time, ”adds Ibrahim Maalouf.
Time for anger and questions
However, this explosion, caused by a stock of 2,750 tons of ammonium nitrate stored in the port for six years, "without protective measures", seems to be the catastrophe too many for a society already suffering. "It's a society that does not deserve the lawless state in which it lives. This explosion sums it all up," says Carole Dagher. "Anger has been brewing in us for a very long time and it is reaching its peak," adds Joana Hadjithomas.
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If the situation is still urgent and survival in the Lebanese capital, time for questioning will be inevitable. "I think resilience is an exceptional thing but it should not be the one that prevents us from saying enough is enough", explains Joana Hadjithomas. "Things have to change dramatically. It's not a curse." For Carole Dagher, this explosion brings back the need for a self-criticism of the Lebanese population. "To try to understand how a society so creative, dynamic, so extraordinary in its artistic, cultural and intellectual contribution, has been able to let such incompetent and irresponsible people come to power."