BEIRUT: A homeless man considered by many an icon of Bliss Street in Hamra was found dead Monday, security sources told The Daily Star.
A man identified as Ali Abdullah was found dead near the American University of Beirut’s main gate around 2 p.m.
His body was taken to Beirut’s Makassed Hospital by police who arrived at the scene after receiving calls from passersby.
Although Abdullah was a chain smoker, a doctor who examined his body linked his death to a recent illness brought on by malnutrition.
The storm and cold temperatures in recent days worsened Abdullah’s condition, an official familiar with Abdullah’s case said Monday.
Abdullah was well known among AUB students, dozens of whom shared photos of Abdullah on Bliss St after hearing the news of his death.
Students often shared cigarettes and coffee with Abdullah, who was a familiar sight in the area that borders the university. A rumor among AUB students suggested Abdullah had been a physics professor at the university who suffered from schizophrenia.
But the official denied the rumor.
“He was an educated man, spoke at least three languages, but he did not teach at AUB,” he said.
The official said Abdullah’s mental illness was a result of the Civil War.
“Abdullah was tortured at the hands of a foreign army in the 1980s and he was never able to recover from the trauma,” he added.
AUB students shared their memories of Abdullah on Facebook. “I am going to miss the coffee and the weird conversations we had,” one student wrote.