Lebanon News

Tripoli calm, but violence mars Eid mood

While the streets are returning to normal, many fear violence could erupt again at any time.

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The sound of gunfire has receded from the street that divides the rival Tripoli neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.

After the Army set up checkpoints at key entrances of the neighborhoods, calm and signs of normalcy, including traffic, began to return to the city Wednesday.

But not all has returned to normal and the effects of the recent violence continue to be felt as many residents of the city look to celebrate Eid al-Adha.

Despite a cease-fire and the withdrawal of gunmen from the streets, classes did not resume. Public schools opened their doors in the morning, but students did not attend.

Since the holiday falls on Friday, and as parents continue to express worries after the violent clashes broke out earlier in the week, school administrations decided to restart classes next week.

Opponents and supporters of the Syrian regime faced off Sunday night after the funeral of the head of Internal Security Forces’ Information Branch Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan.

The clashes between residents of the Sunni stronghold of Bab al-Tabbaneh and the predominantly Alawite Jabal Mohsen left 10 dead and 65 wounded.

The heavy deployment by the Lebanese Army Tuesday across the city was a message to both sides that the Army would shoot toward the gunfire and would crack down on those who were blocking the main road linking Tripoli to Akkar.

But shop owners doubt that they will have a good holiday season.

Talal Baroudi, head of the Traders Association in Azami Street, is pessimistic about the upcoming holiday.

“The primary issue is security, and we as traders are ready to sacrifice if there is hope for the future ... but what we are going through on the eve of the Eid makes us think of closing down,” Baroudi told The Daily Star.

Khaled Haddad, a shop owner in Tripoli, said that customers had been looking forward to the holiday until the clashes resumed Monday.

Haddad had hoped to make up for the losses his shop suffered from the last round of violence in August.

“We were eagerly waiting for this season and we bought a lot of new collections of clothes, but as you can see, there is no movement in the market,” the shopkeeper said.

Many Tripoli residents out shopping ahead of Eid al-Adha agreed that the season was marred by the clashes.

“One has to go to more than one shop to buy something good for a good price,” said one shopper. “But we can no longer do that; we are afraid of clashes that can erupt any minute.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 25, 2012, on page 3.




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