Rear View – Lebanon in review (1 August 2021)

Rear View – Lebanon in review (1 August 2021)

27 July: Japan creates beautiful Olympic kimono for Lebanon

Japan has created a kimono for Lebanon and every other country participating in the Olympic Games currently being held in Tokyo.

Kimonos are traditional Japanese garments and Japan’s national dress. The kimono representing Lebanon contains elements of Lebanese culture and heritage, including a church and a mosque side-by-side; the Baalbek temple; the Raouche Rock; and the Phoenician alphabet. From the top of the kimono, which depicts a soaring Phoenix, grapes representing Lebanese wine hang. The fabric also shows a Lebanese cedar tree, on the bottom left corner.

The Kimono Project, which features 213 unique garments costing about $9000 each, began in 2014 by the Japan-based Imagine Oneworld organization, and was led by Japanese designer Yoshimasa Takakura. The initiative has been funded by donations and sponsorships.

28 July: Lebanon prepares for anniversary of August 4th explosion 

As Lebanon prepares to mark the first anniversary of the deadly Beirut explosion, the country has declared August 4 a day of mourning.

Flags will fly at half-mast and government offices will be closed as part of the mourning.

Similarly, radio and television schedules will be altered to commemorate the tragedy: a massive explosion of ammonium nitrate stored in the Port of Beirut.

The blast killed 215 people, injured over 6,500, and destroyed large areas of the city. Buildings as far as 10km away from the Port, including Beirut International Airport, sustained damage from the explosion.

So far, no indictment has been delivered for the blast. Judge Tarek Bitar, the lead investigator, on July 28th was successful in getting the lawyer’s immunities of former MP Youssef Fenianos and current MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zaiter lifted: a step toward formally charging them.

A year has passed, and still no one was held responsible for this tragedy in Lebanon. The people have had ENOUGH.

29 July:  IMF funds a priority for Mikati

When Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati forms a cabinet, his first and most important priority will be resuming negotiations with the International Monetary Fund to release up to $4 billion to ease Lebanon’s economic and financial plight.

In a meeting of the caretaker Cabinet last week, the IMF informed ministers that the fund is prepared to provide Lebanon with a soft loan of between $3 billion and $4 billion conditional on the formation of a full government. The funds will be used to enact a reform plan created by France, which requires a specialist government capable of implementing reforms and further engaging the IMF.

The next parliamentary elections in Lebanon are in May 2022. If Mitaki is able to form a Cabinet of technocrats during this interim, he will attempt to take quick measures to encourage the release of some funds during his short term in office.

29 July: Former Minister Fenianos loses legal immunity

Youssef Fenianos, the former Public Works and Transport Minister, has lost the immunity granted to him as a lawyer. Fenianos has been charged once before regarding the August 4 Beirut explosion.

Judge Tarek Bitar, the lead investigator into the explosion, requested that the Bar Associations of Beirut and Tripoli lift the immunity of Fenianos as well as current MPs Ali Hassan Khalil and Ghazi Zaiter. The lawyer’s immunity for all three men were lifted by the Associations, leaving Khalil and Zaiter only with the immunity afforded to them as current government ministers. Meanwhile, Fenianos, who currently holds no office, has no remaining immunities to protect him from prosecution.

In their decision, the Tripoli Bar Association took into consideration the fact that Fenianos was charged for an act that had nothing to do with his profession as a lawyer, especially since he was suspended from his profession as a lawyer at the time of the accusation on account of him being a government minister.

30 July: Scuffle between Beirut Fire Brigade and media during Ronaldinho visit 

Brazilian football legend Ronaldinho visited the Beirut Fire Brigade on July 30th to pay his respects to the victims of the August 4th Beirut explosion and meet with their families.

A large number of fans came to the Brigade to see Ronaldinho, who stopped to pose for pictures and sign autographs. The event was being covered by a group of cameramen and journalists.

At one point, a lieutenant and members of the Brigade attacked the group of fans and media personnel, hoping to push them back and allow Ronaldinho space to leave. The cameramen were attacked again when they entered the area to continue their coverage, and some of their cameras were smashed before they were expelled.

With utmost respect for the brigade’s sacrifices, the Syndicate of Photographers has denounced the attack in a statement, urging the Beirut Fire Brigade leadership and the concerned authorities to hold the perpetrators accountable for their actions.

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