Lebanon’s aftermath


LEBANON: France is taking a lead among Western nations, with the United States making tentative (my take) offers of help in the wake of Tuesday’s catastrophic explosion in Beirut. The official death toll stands at 137, with more than 5,000 injured and at least 350,000 made homeless in a blast triggered by a fire that exploded nearly 3,000 metric tons of ammonium nitrate at the city’s port.

  • French President Emmanuel Macron toured the streets of Beirut on Thursday, where he met angry crowds demanding an end to the corrupt political leadership that has dragged Lebanon into its disaster. Protesters also shouted, “Iran get out of Lebanon,” echoing popular frustration currently on display in Iraq and Iran.
  • Churches and ministries in areas near the port are widely damaged but have reported no casualties so far. And they are getting to work with the cleanup.
  • Decades of stoic resistance has turned to rage for Lebanese suffering economic collapse and political gamesmanship before the blast.
  • Israel—in a gesture of solidarity with Lebanon, whose ruling Hezbollah targets its destruction—displayed the flag of Lebanon in lights on the side of Tel Aviv’s city hall.
  • “I genuinely, even now, have no idea how I am not dead,” writes Washington Post reporter Sarah Dadouch from Beirut.
  • Beirut, in photos.
  • Five ways to pray for Lebanon here.

SAUDI ARABIA: A Saudi hit squad was sent to Toronto in 2018 by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—just after the brutal killing of Jamal Khashoggi in Turkey—to assassinate a former top Saudi intelligence official. Those allegations are contained in a lawsuit brought by the officer, Saad Aljabri, filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C.

PAKISTAN: A court has ordered Maria Shahbaz, a 14-year-old Christian girl who was abducted and forcibly married to a Muslim man, to be returned to the custody of her abductor.

A mass ceremony in June marked the latest conversions of Hindus to Islam to escape their second-class status in jobs, housing, and welfare. For Christians in the Muslim-majority nation, one pastor wrote, “Due to the coronavirus, believers who are on daily wages are still suffering greater challenges to feed their families.

TURKEY: Thousands of women have taken to the streets protesting violence against women as part of the We Will Stop Femicides movement, with reports circulating the Erdogan government and others may pull out of the Istanbul Convention combating such violence.

SOUTH SUDAN: A gruesome murder in the capital city of Juba of three sisters—ages 4, 7, and 9—has sparked a public outcry and led to the arrest of 16 suspects.

ATLANTIC: In the news-we-didn’t-need department, hurricane season in the Atlantic, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is set to be one of the busiest on record.

PORTUGAL: The blue streets of Lisbon, a city known for its colorfully painted avenues, signal they are now pedestrian-only, pandemic-friendly.

I’M READING: For review in light of Beirut, Fouad Ajami’s In This Arab Time and Madeleine Albright’s Hell and Other Destinations.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2020, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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