It all started with Sunni protesters torching the Danish Embassy in
Just a few days ago an uncle, who lives in
Her two nieces are playing on the floor in front of her. It is Sunday afternoon, and the small living room in the southern
Together with her parents, Rana is sitting around the low wooden table enjoying a glass of juice and some waffles. The only family member missing is Nazih, the youngest of the three children, who is studying for a French exam. On the TV, Donald Duck is squawking.
A harmonious get-together in a southern
But this is true only at first glance. Even though the al-Dania’s apartment building wasn’t hit during the 34-day-war, the family order has been severely disturbed.
“All of a sudden all the responsibility rests on my sister and me,” Rana says.
In the first week of the war the supermarket where her father Ali used to work as a butcher was destroyed. The employer refused to give the 51-year-old a new job – he didn’t even receive his wages for July and August.
Since then the family has had to live off the money Rana and her sister, Nada, bring in as Arabic teachers in a small school in central
“Before the war our salary was $400 a month, now we are only paid by the hour.”
Overall, only $200 dollars are brought home for the same amount of work as before the war.
“The times when I was able to go to the cinema or buy some new clothes are definitely over,” Rana says, sighing.
Sometimes she just can’t stand the pressure anymore, especially directly after the stressful summer.
On the second day of the war the family fled to relatives in the Bekaa valley, taking just a bunch of clothes with them. Nobody thought the war would last that long. But then, one night of bombing followed the next.
“We only slept during the day, and even then the sound of the fighter jets in the sky wouldn’t stop,” she remembers.
After a week or so she started taking pills to calm her down enough to be able to sleep just a little.
But even after the war ended, no real relief was in sight. Great parts of her neighborhood had been destroyed; the smell of dead bodies and leftover waste was disgusting, she recalls. Even today her mother has to wipe away the dust three times a day after opening the windows.
Thus, leaving the country has become a real option.
“If I am actually able to get the visa for
Her uncle lives in
“Every time you think the situation is returning to normal, something new happens,” Rana says.
First it was Gemayel’s assassination, followed by the opposition’s protests.
It is not the fear of a new civil war that makes her consider leaving. Even after the January riots she doesn’t believe new long-term sectarian strife will take hold of the country as it did between 1975 and 1990.
“My sister is engaged to a Palestinian, our neighbors are Sunnis. Why should we start shooting at each other?”
Many political analysts are more skeptical than she is. Even Prime Minister Siniora warned: “We are at a dangerous crossroads. Either we are heading for a civil war, or heading for dialogue.”
Already since Gemayel’s murder, soldiers have been patrolling the old Green line which divided the Christian-dominated areas of
Passing the army patrols on the way to school every day doesn’t make life in
“How could I leave my family behind in this environment?” she asks, with concern.
Gemayel’s assassination was the sixth in a series of murders aimed at anti-Syrian politicians and journalists in less than two years.
“If another politician is murdered, we will have an explosion,” she fears. “And personally I feel I’m just losing my mind.”