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Last Updated: Tuesday, 23 January 2007, 14:59 GMT
Lebanese viewpoints on strike
Five Beirut residents describe how Tuesday's strike affected their daily lives

LANA MEDAWAR, NEWS PRESENTER, BEIRUT

I live in East Beirut, in the Metn district. It is a mixed Shia, Christian area and we were not really affected by the strike.

I went to work as usual without any difficulty, because the protestors respected the right of journalists, Red Cross workers and others to move freely and to go to work.

There was no provocation from those taking part in the strike.

In general the main streets were closed, but the smaller side streets were clear.

The security forces were in a very difficult situation, but they handled it well.

Schools had the right to stay open. My friends, relatives and I didn't notice any children who wanted to go school having problems in doing so.

I didn't see that the strike stopped everyday life. But to be honest, we haven't had "everyday life" for the last 15 years.

The ultimate aim of the strike was to improve people's lives.

That's what it was about; giving Lebanese people a chance to improve their lot.

SALEEM KHOURY, DENTIST, BEIRUT

Saleem Khoury

It's been quite exciting today, actually. We live in south-east Beirut, at the edge of one of the main routes in to the city.

To the right is the Shia side, to the left it's Christian.

This morning, the area was blocked with burning tyres; a lot of people were in the roads.

I tried to drop my wife and children at school, but we had to take a big detour to get there.

In the end, classes were cancelled because not enough children turned up. My wife, who works at the school, walked the children back home.

The authorities were present on the streets, but they weren't really doing anything. They were blocking the roads, but they weren't stopping people burning tyres.

A little after that, things started to escalate. At about 0930, the two Christian groupings started to confront each other. There was a lot of pushing and shoving. We saw this from the house.

Then the military started to interfere, trying to separate them. They fired into the air.

Now it's a bit quieter. The tyres have stopped burning but the roads are deserted.

NADIA ABDULBAKI, STUDENT, BEIRUT

Nadia Abdul Baki

I live in Hamra, a mixed area, near the American University of Beirut. I am a master's student. I also work in academic development in a town 40 minutes' drive north of Beirut.

My friends and I agreed yesterday to go to work. They were coming from Saida, in southern Lebanon, but they couldn't get into Beirut. So they turned round and went home.

That was my first obstacle. Then I saw on TV they already were blocking the streets we had to go through. It's through the Christian cities and there is so much tension over there.

They were even blocking the side streets, so I dropped the idea of going to work today.

I wish the best for Lebanon because it's really a great country. All this that has been going on for the last month and a half isn't the solution.

Why are these people trying to prevent others going to work? Do your action on your own, don't force your ideas on people.

Having [Prime Minister] Siniora in or out - there are bigger things to think about.

For example, the international tribunal for Rafik Hariri, and improving the economy.

ABBAS ABUZAID, RESEARCHER IN HUMANITIES, SANEEA, CENTRAL BEIRUT

I live in a religiously mixed area. We are quite affected by the strike.

I went to work as normal, but the 10-minute journey took me an hour. I had to walk because there was no public transport at all.

Some people driving their own cars were trying to help people get to their destinations.

I saw the security forces trying to stop the strikers blocking the roads. Sometimes they failed because those for and against the strike were throwing stones at each other.

I saw the stone-throwing with my own eyes.

The security forces tried to avoid this area - I think they thought it would only make things worse.

Some of the children where I live went to school, others didn't.

Those who didn't either couldn't get to school, or their parents decided to support the strike.

Personally, I don't support it. It's not the right way to solve Lebanon's problems.

The biggest priority for Lebanon is to hold the Hariri tribunal and to hold new presidential elections.

NATHALIE, TEACHER, BEIRUT

I live in Ashrafiyeh, in central Beirut. It's mainly Christian, but it does have other people too.

I tried to go to work today. The school bus picked me up - I'm a teacher - but the roads were blocked.

You could see the army in the streets; they weren't blocking the roads.

There were flyers on the ground in Arabic, probably about the strike. We couldn't see further than that at that point.

I haven't watched the news; I'm in denial about it all.

I think after all the assassinations, there shouldn't be these strikes. It's not just Lebanese people doing this, there are other political influences from outside involved.

Some people I speak to, I'm surprised they have the opinions they do. It's not always predictable. One thing that all the factions agree on, is not to go back to civil war.

Right now it's quiet. We're stuck at home, just waiting for tomorrow.

I'm leaving Lebanon in August; I'm getting married. I'm taking my cat and my future husband to Canada.





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