By Joey Ayoub
I am sad to report that a 2,500 year-old Phoenician shipyard was completely destroyed today in Mina el-Hosn, Beirut. The ministry of culture has ignored some sort of understanding between their position – a complete disregard for anything that requires the slightest intellectual effort – and that of ‘Save Beirut Heritage’ and ‘L’Association pour la protection du patrimoine libanais’ which aimed to preserve the site for obvious reasons: that a 2,500 year-old Phoenician shipyard obliterated in one day would be a sad day for Lebanon’s culture. The site is now owned by ‘Les Venus Tours’ construction company.
Al-Akhbar reports that
Giorgio Tarraf, spokesperson for the Save Beirut Heritage group, said Tuesday’s shock construction work breached an understanding that was supposedly reached with Layoun to preserve ancient stones while leaving room for development.
“They (government) were talking about some sort of mitigation approach where they move the stones and preserve them in a way that would be leave room for development. Not even that happened – today nothing is going to remain,” Tarraf told Al-Akhbar.
Pascale Ingea, president of ‘L’association pour la protection du patrimoine libanais’ or APPL was quoted in L’Orient-Le-Jour saying:
“Nothing is left. We shout scandal at those who burn tires. But the real vandals wear ties. If we had known earlier, we could have stopped this massacre.”
But nobody told them. The minister of culture, Gaby Layoun, did not announce it and ignored the voices of all those who were fighting against this barbaric scandal. He ignored the activists who were there, on the site, 5 days ago, calling for this disgraceful act to stop. He also forgot or refused to publish in the ministry’s official journal the previous minister’s decision to categorize the site as being part of Lebanon’s protected heritage. He still maintains the position that the site has no historical value whatsoever.
I stand today in utter shame. We have failed where our ancestors have not for 2,500 years. I call for the resignation of Gaby Layoun who deserves nothing less than a complete dishonorable discharge for treason against Lebanon’s culture and heritage. He has failed. And we have failed in letting this happen.