Beirut is its most beautiful when it’s alive. Over the past few years, it hasn’t been that way. No, parties at Skybar (RIP) don’t count.
Beirut is not beautiful when it’s a strange land to its people. It’s not beautiful when its center is always empty, when its heart is devoid of its people, when it’s forcibly maimed beyond recognition. No, Beirut is not beautiful when it doesn’t have us, when it’s full of flags that are not of the country which it represents.
On August 29th, 2015, Beirut not only had us, but it had enough of us to make it the most beautiful it’s been in years. Yesterday evening, Beirut was gorgeous. It was our own city finding its voice again, finding its calling again, finding its own identity again.
Beirut is nothing without its streets that should be filled with people. Yesterday, we filled its heart. Beirut is nothing without a beating center. Yesterday, Martyrs’ Square was beating in tachycardia. Beirut is nothing without us. Yesterday, we were Beirut.
Over 100,000 people gathered yesterday in Martyrs’ Square to say enough is enough. They chanted against the system. They chanted for their rights. They chanted with every ounce of voice they had in them for the causes they believed in.
This is how beautiful Beirut was:
And people had their hands intertwined to signal unity:
The people also brought posters.
Some, like my friend Racha’s poster, were hilarious:
She’s going to kill me for this going viral.
Youssef Nassar, inspired by Elissa’s now famous Twitter gaffe, brought out the big guns:
#Best #Concert #Ever! #With #My #Besties.
My friend Izzie, meanwhile, compared our ruling class to her dog, “Funny.” Obviously, they wouldn’t amount to how adorable her puppy is:
Pop culture also made an appearance in the form of “Game of Thrones.” What do our politicians have in common with Jon Snow? You guessed it:
That wasn’t the only Game of Thrones-inspired poster around:
Pop culture made another appearance in the form of a “Fifty Shades” pun:
The whole “I kneel in front of you oh General” line that Bassil delivered recently now has an entirely different meaning.
And since we’re a very competitive country, our politicians had their report card released. Needless to say, it’s not very flattering:
Because this protest was a BIG deal, Myriam Klink made an appearance:
But Klink will probably NOT approve of the content of this poster, zico zico and all:
And because no protest in this country happens without foreign approval, this protest was under the auspices of North Korea. Thank you Pyong Yang!
Some people brought figurative coffins with them to bury the system that has been killing us for years:
Some made jokes about our security forces:
Some were not as polite:
But at least they have good calligraphy.
This time around, Berri got a few jabs:
Others, and this is the poster that resonated with me the most, wanted to remind everyone of how much we’ve lost being submissive to this system for the past several years, and how many innocent lives paid the price. May all the children of Tripoli rest in peace:
And here are a few more:
All of this happened to the backdrop of the most ironic poster of them all:
Beirut is its most beautiful when its people are this free, when they are this creative and when they finally find their voice that has been forcibly silenced for years, at times when we thought such a thing wouldn’t happen.
Yesterday’s protest was the BIGGEST manifestation of secular, non-partisan but very politically driven individuals in the history of the country. If August 29th leads to results in the coming few days, this protest will go down in history as another form of Beirut Spring, in the heart of a country that has long shown democracy to the region.
This post is not about what should have happened, what should happen next and what is expected of this movement. This is about how beautiful and glorious our sight was, and how beautiful we made Beirut in the process.
Cheers to everyone who made Beirut great again. Cheers to those who sang, and chanted and shouted. Cheers to hopefully saying one day: “I was there.” Cheers to us.