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Lebanon’s Kurdish community reclaim the Dalieh

This is a blog post combining two articles by Habib Battah on Beirut Report. The two original articles can be found here and here. The photos used are also from Battah’s articles.

As is custom, the Persian holiday of Nowruz was planned to be celebrated on the 21st of March on the rocky coast of Dalieh in Beirut. The photo above is from a couple of years ago, before the area was fenced off by property developers who purchased the land, through a series of controversial legal maneuvers. More information on the Dalieh can be found here.

However a call was made to reclaim the coast and many in Lebanon’s Kurdish community arranged to go to the Dalieh throughout the day and the organizers of the #SaveDalieh campaign planned a bonfire during late afternoon to celebrate with them and demand the space be kept free and open to the public.

Nowruz celebrations fell on a stormy Saturday this year so only a few in the Kurdish community went out:

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Later that evening, a group of activists from the Civil Campaign to Save Dalieh held a Nowruz bonfire in solidarity with the community, who stand to loose this gathering space due to a major Rem Koolhaas project planned for the site. (You can read more about the project and the politicians behind it here)

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But the day after, the 22nd of March, with the sun shining, crowds went out to celebrate in Dalieh, despite the barbed wire fences and concrete barricades that have been put up by the property developers.

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The concrete blocks that developers have placed here leave little room for a stage seen in previous years’ celebrations, but people still improvised in the few open spaces that remain:

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For now, Dalieh is the only surviving natural coastal outcrop in Beirut, walled in by luxury towers:

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But if developers have their way–and build a sprawling seafront project here– this space may no longer be available the public, as the free picnic and recreational grounds it has been for generations:

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You can read more about the Civil Campaign to Protect Dalieh and keep up with their upcoming activities on their Facebook page.

 

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