Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Gregory Privat: All that jazz

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

HRW chief: 'Trump has been a disaster for human rights'

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Making music with rubbish, and dangerous roads in Guinea

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

Fears rise over economic impact of US government shutdown

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Kim Jong-un's rumoured ex-lover pop star makes rare visit to South before Games

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Choose France', Macron tells 140 foreign business leaders ahead of summit

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

FRANCE 24 meets Liberia's George Weah ahead of his inauguration

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Gymnast's fierce courtroom address

Read more

THE DEBATE

A whole new world: Trump anniversary special

Read more

REVISITED

We return to places which have been in the news - often a long time ago, sometimes recently - to see how local people are rebuilding their lives. Sunday at 9.10 pm. Or you can catch it online from Friday.

Latest update : 2014-11-21

Is Beirut still haunted by ghosts of the civil war?

© France 24

When Lebanon's civil war ended in 1990, it wasn't clear to many Lebanese how or why. Warlords swapped their fatigues for the suits of political office, then issued an amnesty pardoning themselves. There was to be no reconciliation, no reckoning. It was a recipe for continued instability, as deep divisions never healed.

To begin to understand what is often referred to as Lebanon's state of collective amnesia, Assaad Chaftari, a militiaman-turned-peace activist, took us to one of Beirut's most famous war ruins.

‘And who might you be?’ asked the soldier at the gate of the ruined Holiday Inn. He wasn’t addressing us, but our companion from the mukhabarat, or army intelligence. We’d been instructed to pay the intelligence services a visit on our way to film the building. Now, apparently disgruntled at another army agency sending a minder along, the soldier assigned an additional one. At issue were the rows of tanks parked beneath this carcass of a building; filming all military installations is forbidden.

Permission to film inside the Holiday Inn, an iconic ruin left over from Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, is rare and was hard to obtain. The owners recently put it up for sale and, somewhat surprisingly given the building’s notoriety, were wary of media coverage that might tarnish its image.

So two minders – one, it seems, keeping an eye on the other – took us around the Beirut icon. They turned out to be kindly, managing not to look too crestfallen when we confirmed that we’d have to film the view from the top, and even carrying our tripod up about 24 flights of stairs (we lost count). As one look at the building will tell you, the lifts stopped working back in 1975; their empty shafts now fall eerily into darkness. Having long seen that ghastly edifice towering above the city, it was fascinating to see the interior, with its dizzying drops, battle scars, militia graffiti and trees growing in unlikely places.

It was Hezbollah’s turn to send a minder with us to Dahieh, in the southern suburbs. The Shi’ite party controls the area, and has become allergic to international media since it joined the war in neighbouring Syria. We had hoped to film the streets around and a few of the party’s giant billboards. But no such luck.

So it was just as well that we’d included a segment on Beirut’s famed nightlife. In the company of DJ Ladybug, we rounded off our filming with a cocktail at Sporting – a classic beach club that dates to the 1950s. And bar a few large bouncers, thankfully, there were no minders in sight.
 

By Lucy FIELDER , Selim EL MEDDEB

COMMENT(S)

Archives

2018-01-19 Gambia

Video: Gambians reflect on first year of democracy

One year ago, former Gambian dictator Yahya Jammeh waved to his supporters for the last time on the tarmac of Banjul airport before fleeing to Equatorial Guinea, where he still...

Read more

2018-01-05 Asia-pacific

How former Maoist child soldiers became engineers of Nepal's democracy

Between 1996 and 2006, a bloody civil war between Maoist revolutionaries and the state tore Nepal apart. A decade later, FRANCE 24 Reporters head to Nepal for the first...

Read more

2017-12-21 Africa

The remains of Central African Republic's imperial past

FRANCE 24's reporters returned to the Central African Republic, 40 years after Jean-Bedel Bokassa crowned himself emperor. Nicknamed the "Central African Napoleon", Bokassa was...

Read more

2017-12-08 Egypt

Video: Tahrir Square, a melting pot for Egyptian revolutions

Egypt’s Tahrir Square is emblematic of the Arab Spring uprising. In January 2011, thousands of Egyptians thronged onto the Cairo square to protest society-wide corruption and...

Read more

2017-11-09 Europe

Video: Remembering France’s 'camp of shame' at Rivesaltes

For three decades, Rivesaltes in southern France was home to the largest internment camp in Western Europe. FRANCE 24 returns to the site where tens of thousands of people were...

Read more