The crime took place amid a growing political debate over the status of refugees and concerns raised by local politicians. Very quickly, people started to call for the deportation of all Syrian people in the country, and many signs were raised bearing provocative anti-refugee statements.
It is noteworthy that a number of municipal authorities in various parts of Lebanon have issued an official work ban on Syrians, and things only get worse when a security breach or an assault takes place, resulting in more hatred against Syrian refugees and Syrian people in general — as is currently the case.
There are more than one million Syrian refugees in Lebanon registered with the UNHCR, which accounts for 20 percent of the total population.
This is undoubtedly a huge burden on Lebanon, but all proposed solutions seem improvised and the issue’s aggravation does not compel anyone to find a solution — it actually promotes fear and helplessness.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun raised the refugee issue and called for their deportation at the UN General assembly last month.
Right after his speech, Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil met with his Syrian counterpart, Walid Al-Moallem, at the UN Headquarters in New York City. The meeting was a blow to Lebanon’s self-distancing policy and Bassil congratulated Al-Moallem for the Syrian Army’s “victories” over terrorism — as he put it.
The information distributed after the meeting did not mention Syrian refugees at all, despite the Lebanese minister’s incessant criticism of them previously, when he described them as a burden and a devilry.
And here rises the inevitable question: Isn’t the Syrian Foreign Minister the best person to reach out to regarding the refugee issue, when 85 percent of Syrian lands are currently safe and controlled by the Syrian regime, according to Aoun’s statement? No one in Lebanon is answering this question.
The million-plus Syrian refugees in Lebanon undoubtedly place a huge burden on the country, but all proposed solutions seem improvised and the issue’s aggravation serves only to promote fear and helplessness.
Bashar Assad seized every opportunity to declare his opposition to the refugees’ return to Syria, as he incessantly spoke of the “homogeneity” of the current Syrian fabric. Assad insists that he would not allow those who fled death in Syria to return. President Aoun has a different opinion.
The sectarian cleansing practiced by the Assad forces and their Iranian-funded militias has not taken the Lebanese government's stance into account, nor did it consider the fragility of Lebanon’s demographics. The internationally documented sectarian cleansing in Syria followed a strategic plan to alter the country’s demographics.
Aoun’s speech and the Lebanese stance towards “the danger of Syrian refugees” are part of local political schemes designed for domestic use and has nothing to do with what is being planned for the region.
These policies and schemes do not care much about the life of Raya Chidiac — they seek to exploit her murder.
• Diana Moukalled is a veteran journalist with extensive experience in both traditional and new media. She is also a columnist and freelance documentary producer. Twitter @dianamoukalled