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a small piece of land,
wedged between sea and hell
The country we all want to leave,
the one we will always love and hate,
the one we will always come back to,
the one we will fight for,
the one we belong to.
For some it is the most beautiful country, for others it is an open-air prison, a small piece of land wedged between sea and hell.
People often ask me what I came to do in this country that everyone wants to leave, me who could be elsewhere, me who could live in France, me who has seen more than 40 countries in my life all over the world, I am often asked what keeps me here, in this small piece of land wedged between sea and hell.
That's right, why ? Why stay here ? Why stay in a country where the electricity goes off 12 hours a day ? Why stay in a country where half of the people live under the poverty line ? Why stay in a country where the roads are flooded by water when it rains and where potable water is not found. Why stay in a country where those who govern do not care about those who live there, who let a bomb destroy half of the capital ? Why stay in a country that is sinking day after day a little deeper into chaos, where less than two days ago a man burned himself alive in the street because the desire to die was stronger for him than the sadness of living ? Why stay here while I could be somewhere else ? Why stay in this small piece of land wedged between sea and hell ?
A phrase often comes to my mind when I am asked the question : « Free Men can go, but sometimes they stay. Perhaps that’s the best proof of love, to take the liberty of staying while we could go away. » Because it is about love, not only for a country but also and above all for a people. A strong people but a wounded people, a beautiful people but a sad people, a proud people but a people on its knees. A people who will fight to the end for its freedom, for its neighbor, a people who no bomb will ever silence. A people who live, knees on the ground but fist raised, in a small piece of land wedged between sea and hell.
You only need to have been to Beirut once to understand what is holding me here. It is enough to have seen these majestic mountains topped with a blanket of snow that plunge into the sea to understand. You only need to walk through one of its streets and smell a tasty manouche to understand. You only have to hear the soft sound of dice against varnished wood to understand. You just have to stroll on this seaside, smell this sweet perfume of hookah while watching the fishermen with their feet in the water to understand. You only have to hear the coffee vendor in the street banging his porcelain cups against each other in his hand to understand. You only need to be awakened in the morning by the song of the muezzin and to have your day punctuated by the sound of church bells to understand. It is enough to have tasted a good tabbouleh even once or to have gone out for just one evening in a street of Gemayze to understand. It is enough to have met the eyes and smiles of these people and to have heard even once an "Ahlan wsahlan" to understand.
Because despite everything, in this small piece of land wedged between sea and hell is a small country, a lost paradise called Lebanon and this country is mine. A beautiful and sad country at the same time. You can leave it, but Lebanon will never leave you.
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