Beirut’s Christmas spirit shattered by explosion, crisis

By Noemí Jabois and Anna María Guzelian

Beirut, Dec 24 (efe-epa).- Silvie Mousalli sits in a wheelchair on her balcony in Beirut’s Karantina neighborhood, ground zero of the massive explosion that shook the city in August, the two Yuletide garlands being the only reminder that Christmas is just around the corner.

The adornments cannot bring the typical Christmas cheer to a building where walls are to be painted, holes to be covered and various things to patch, after an NGO put new glass on the windows and fixed the door.

“I used to decorate, I normally put up a tree and make a shrine, but not this year — my tree was torn to 100 pieces because of the explosion,” Mousalli tells Efe at the house where she and her caregiver, Rita Khoury, were when the explosion ripped through the nearby port of Beirut.

Both “miraculously” survived the 4 August explosion that left over 200 people dead, more than 6,500 injured and nearly 300,000 homeless, but they did sustain injuries.

Mousalli hopes to attend the mass on 25 December at Karantina church, where workers are racing against the clock to finish the reconstruction in time for Christmas.


Despite the lights and the fir trees put on some of Beirut’s capital, the current situation has cast a long shadow over Christmas this year for the Lebanese, 40 percent of whom are Christians.

Lebanon has been struggling with its worst economic crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, and the coronavirus pandemic and the Beirut port explosion have dealt the Lebanese people a heavy blow.

“There’s pain inside, this explosion is something that you cannot process, now any noise would make us jump, and this feeling is very painful,” Khoury says.

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