Beirut Explosion Hit 3 Disparate Neighborhoods. Now They’re United in Rage



“Tell the world that we need aid, not money, but nuclear bombs to drop on these politicians!” she screamed. She insulted them one by one, until her granddaughter, Melissa Fakhri, 20, mentioned a Christian warlord-turned-party leader her grandmother liked.

Ms. Saadeh said he was better than the others.

“Grandma, all of them means all of them!” Ms. Fakhri said, reciting a common protest chant.

Later, volunteer cleaners on the street chanted the classic battle cry of the Arab Spring uprisings, “The people want to topple the regime!” Ms. Saadeh ran to the window, pumping her fists.

The neighborhood known as the Quarantine clings to Beirut like a forgotten annex. Named for its history as a holding area for potentially infectious travelers, it is poor, polluted and squeezed between the port, a major highway and a garbage processing facility, which sends a stench wafting through the cinder block apartments.

“The Quarantine has always been neglected,” said Fakhrideen Shihadi, a Quarantine native who oversees its tin-roofed mosque.

The cranes of Beirut’s port loom over the neighborhood, but its proximity to one of the country’s key economic arteries brought little money to the area. Plum jobs at the port, and the illicit income they generated, were divvied up between political parties to reward loyalists and fund operations.

“The port is all wasta,” Mr. Shihadi said, using an Arabic word for the family, sectarian and political connections that Lebanese rely on for jobs and services.



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