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Cover Image of The Education of Little Tree by Forrest Carter, Rennard Strickland published by University of New Mexico Press
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Letters from Beirut


  Beirut—the pearl of the Middle East

My former room-mate at the Stanford University Pulishing Course is a charming, intelligent young woman from Beirut.  She attended graduate school at NYU and spent her youth in Paris during her country's civil war years in the 80's. Happy to be home in a thriving Beirut once more, we have been corresponding back and forth.  I want to share her e-mail and first hand account with you surrounding recent events in her country.  


March 06, 2005
— Hi P:  Well, things have been so weird for the past two weeks. But they have taken a beautiful turn after so much grief. On the day of the horrible assassination and for a week afterward we were taken back to the 1980's, in the middle of the cival war. Beirut had become again a ghost city, everything was closed and people were depressed. I could not even smile for a whole week.

We tried to socialize and forget with friends but it was impossible, the heart could not follow. But we (the people) were so disgusted and angry with what had happened that we started protesting, and we did so everyday.

Monday they announced a general strike and a huge demonstration was organized at the same time as the parliament meeting and vote. Then the State President tried to ban it, and called for the military to surround the sit-in area to prevent us from getting there. The army had orders but they were on our side. In Lebanon, there is a law against demonstrations, but at this point, we could not lose anything—

The demonstration started on Sunday night, people gathered around the
Martyr's Square and decided to camp and spend the whole night.
People were coming from everywhere and the army pretended to block but actually helped us get into the "restricted" area. My friend and I, and
everybody, took a run to pass the blockage. After a whole night of protest, no sleep, and anxiousness, the Prime Minister announced his
resignation and dissolved the government in the late afternoon.

Everybody started jumping and crying and kissing. Paula,
what is beautiful is that for the first time, almost all communities have been united these two weeks in peaceful protest. This has never happened before. And for once, the international scene (strangely enough, especially the Americans and Bush.... I am still so surprised and speechless about this) is really pushing with us.

Now the battle is not over, not until they vote for an honest transitional government, (which we hope we will get) followed by free and legal elections in May. We await the Syrian withdrawl of troops and intelligiencia, and the time we are rid a useless, corrupt, puppet President.

Can you believe that the latter has not made any annoucement since the assassination, has not once appeared on television to talk to his people... it is utterly shocking!

We don't know what will happen, but we hope it will be for the best. We want to be a free and real democratic country. I don't think a war will strike. We have achieved a "peaceful intifada" and I believe it will go on. 
This is a historical period for us.  

Much much love. 

[Rania recommends these authors to understand her culture, the history of her country and the important writers and thinkers.] 

Lebanese Authors

Of course our very famous Khalil Gibran: The Prophet (his most famous book), Wonderer, Spirit Rebellious

Albert Hourani: The History of Arab People

Kamal Salibi: House of Many Mansions

Hanan Al-Shaykh: Beirut Blues, Story of Zahra, Only in London, Women of Sand and Myrth

Amin Maalouf: Rock of Tanios, Leo the African, Samarc

Samir Kassir: Histoire de Beyrouth (in French)

Alexandre Najjar: Le Roman de Beyrouth (in French)


Other Authors


John Fullerton: Give Me Death

Kris Kenway: Bliss Street 

Robert Fisk: Pity the Nation

Thomas Friedman: From Beirut to Jerusalem

Elizabeth Picard: Lebanon, a Shattered Country.

William Harris: Faces of Lebanon



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