Beirut has a picturesque sobriquet "Paris of the East". Recently, the Lebanese capital is hailed in guidebooks and the media as "the" party town of the Levant. But since the last military conflict with Israel, only four years have passed and border skirmishes with neighbors come in a half-year intervals. In addition, the Lebanon - theoretically independent - is between the forces. It is being courted not only by Tehran and its President Ahmadinejad, but also from Syria, from Europe and the USA. Beirut is divided - and that is the rest of the country. Regions, districts and buildings are divided into religious and political areas of influence. The boundaries are usually not seen and for Europeans certainly hard to fathom. Were it not for the Rue Damascus, where bombed houses stand still in the sky and were it not for the omnipresent military posts of the army, one would think, in view of the building boom and the fancy cars on Beirut's streets, it must be a dream from 1001 night. But Beirut is not just another Dubai. Although most off-roaders have an Arab vehicle registration number and in the rebuilt center, the flagship stores of international luxury brands like pearls on a necklace strung together. The East is still predominantly Christian West and the Muslim south. The people of Beirut are masters of repression and oblivion. A legacy of 30 years of wars and occupations by foreign powers - not least the Civil War. No sooner has the last bomb fell, people look forward, the debris is pushed to the side, houses are being rebuilt. As in Dahiye, the center of power of Hezbollah. Israeli attacks in 2006 turned it into a largely rubble - then created in record time, new residential blocks. In the city center built the company Solidere of assassinated former prime minister al-Hariri, a Disneyland for super-rich Arabs. Authentic and surreal at the same time, old facades are repaired, new buildings built from the ground. Only a shot through sculpture at the Martyrs' Square alone holds the memories of the days monitored, as was the war zone here. The residents of Beirut are progressing steadily. The city is expensive, that does not make survival easier. Everyone seems busy on the road in search of a business, a job for the day or a help for themselves and their families by welfare workers. Especially young men go to work abroad. Those who stayed behind come to terms. His district, no one has really to leave. By the religious separation during the Civil War, the urban areas have become self-sufficient, so that switching to another district is not required. Only the Corniche, the long promenade is shared by all the same. Here, meet the 18 denominations of the city. While there are limits here too: How has the pigeons cave - a symbol of Beirut - clearly belong to the Muslims and the elite yacht and beach clubs apparently to the Christians. Among the palms, however, that some tribes still have bullet holes, there are joggers, cyclists, tourists, street vendors and night owls in peaceful harmony dependin g the day time. For decades, the same men dominate the social and political events. They are called Bachir Gemayel, Samir Geagea, Amin Gemayel, Walid Jumblatt, Michel Aoun and Hassan Nasrallah. Their portraits adorn countless houses, walls, gates and cars. Of course, strictly separated by district. Who's with who now come to terms again or not. This is one of the great mysteries of the daily political agenda in Lebanon. The people and the media have largely given up an analysis. Whether or cynical optimist, there are enough of them in Beirut - not even something positive links them with the political class in the country. Too often, people's hopes in the intrigues of power were sold. The last time that happened in 2008 when the center of Beirut was occupied by Hezbollah for 18 months to blow up the government from office. Since June 2009, negotiated the elected Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, with all parties on a new cabinet. One end of the negotiations is not in sight. The inhabitants of Beirut's comment on the political development often only with a shrug. A look back: It means to stop and think about the emotional and social destruction of their once-unique community. It must go further, the view is facing forward. Only away from the past into the future - as short as it may be.
Photojournalist | GERMANY | Dirk Gebhardt
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