Bruni enthralls at Lebanon’s Beiteddine festival

Carla Bruni-Sarkozy performs at Beiteddine Palace in Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains. (AFP)
Updated 01 August 2018
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Bruni enthralls at Lebanon’s Beiteddine festival

  • Bruni-Sarkozy performed for an audience including Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, former Lebanese president Michel Suleiman and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy
  • The French singer’s performance was one of the most anticipated at this year’s festival, which is held every summer at the Beiteddine Palace in Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains

JEDDAH: Singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, the former French First Lady, wowed the Beiteddine Art Festival near Beirut, Lebanon, in a concert on Monday.
Carla performed songs from her fifth album, “French Touch,” to a crowd including Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, former Lebanese president Michel Suleiman and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy, who is her husband.
On Tuesday, the singer-songwriter posted on Instagram alongside a photo from the concert: “Thank you beautiful Beirut for your warm welcome.” Earlier, with an image of the Beirut sky, she wrote: “Beirut, my heart burns for you already.”
Another image she captioned with: “Looking forward to playing for you tomorrow @beiteddinefestival and so happy to finally discover the beautiful city of Beirut.”
Dressed in black pants and a sequinned jacket initially and then a blue jacket, Bruni was seen belting out one number after another in videos posted by her and the festival’s official account on Instagram. She also performed on the piano and guitar.
The French singer’s performance was one of the most anticipated at this year’s festival, which is held every summer at the Beiteddine Palace in Lebanon’s Chouf Mountains, south of the capital Beirut. The 200-year-old Beiteddine Palace is a marvel of Lebanese architecture, with its many courtyards, monumental gates, elegant arcades and levelled galleries.
The former French president and his wife landed in Beirut on Sunday. They were greeted at the Beirut airport by Beiteddine Art Festival president Noura Jumblatt and the French ambassador to Lebanon, Bruno Foucher.
Sources said Sarkozy met with a number of Lebanese officials, including Suleiman and Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt at his Mukhtara residence.
Since her first album, “Quelqu’un m’a dit,” in 2002, Bruni has sold five million albums and toured the world, including New York, Rio, London and Moscow, singing classic rock, country and jazz standards in English from her fifth album.
The former supermodel married Sarkozy in 2008. The marriage is her first and Sarkozy’s third. In 2010, Forbes magazine ranked Bruni-Sarkozy as the 35th most powerful woman in the world.
The 33rd annual Beiteddine Art Festival, one of the leading ones in the Middle East, began last month, showcasing a series of performers and aiming to draw spectators from around the country and beyond. The festival was launched in the summer of 1985.
This year’s performances include German singer Ute Lemper, Arab composer and singer Kadim Al-Sahir and Montreal-based troupe Cirque Eloize. Shows will continue until August 11.


Rohingya refugees: We will not go back

Rohingya refugees shout slogans at a protest against a disputed repatriation programme at the Unchiprang refugee camp near Teknaf on November 15, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 58 sec ago
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Rohingya refugees: We will not go back

  • As the Bangladesh government prepared to repatriate the first group of 150 Rohingya, hundreds of refugees protested in Unchiprang camp, denouncing any repatriation without their seven-point demand agenda being accepted

COX'S BAZAR: Authorities in Bangladesh have postponed the Rohingya repatriation indefinitely after the refugees voiced their unwillingness to return to Myanmar.
The authorities overturned the recommendations of the Joint Working Group (JWG), a high-powered body set up to plan the repatriation process.
In line with the JWG schedule, the Bangladesh government had gathered about 150 Rohingya from 27 families at the Ghumdhum border crossing point in Bandarban district for repatriation, the Refugee, Relief and Repatriation Commissioner of Bangladesh, Abul Kalam, said.
Kalam, who is also the technical head looking after the repatriation process on the ground, told Arab News that the authorities had been trying to encourage the Rohingya from Unchiprang camp in Teknaf subdistrict to leave with the assembled refugees, but none were willing to return to Myanmar.
“We waited to get the willingness for repatriation from the Rohingya until 4 p.m. But when they were not willing to return at this moment, we could not start the process,” said Kalam.
“The Rohingya will remain here until the next repatriation date is announced,” he said.
Kalam confirmed that no Rohingya would be repatriated against their will. The next repatriation date will be announced after a review of the situation, he said.
As the Bangladesh government prepared to repatriate the first group of 150 Rohingya, hundreds of refugees protested in Unchiprang camp, denouncing any repatriation without their seven-point demand agenda being accepted. Their demands include citizenship rights, freedom of movement, and recognition as Rohingyas in line with the rights given to other ethnic groups in Myanmar.
Protesting refugees chanted slogans: “We won’t go back” and “We want justice.”
Abdus Shukkur, 55, one of the protesting refugees, told Arab News: “I lost three sons and two younger brothers during the military crackdown last year. Now if I go back, the soldiers will kill me. I don’t find any reason to go back at the moment.”
Mohammad Solaiman, 39, another protester, said: “There is no chance of a livelihood in Rakhine. They have destroyed all our assets. What will I do going back there — live in another camp?”

Situation
The UNHCR acknowledged that “the circumstances are not conducive at the moment for (the Rohingya) repatriation.”
Fairas Al-Khateeb, UNHCR spokesperson in Cox’s Bazar, said that according to an understanding with the Bangladesh government, the UN body had been asked to assess the “willingness for repatriation” of all 485 families selected in the first group.
“The assessment is not complete yet. Once concluded, we will share it with the Bangladesh government.”
Assessing the situation regarding refugee repatriation, he said: “We hope things will get better. But I can’t anticipate when this will happen.”
“We always stress willingness and dignity in going back home,” Al-Khateeb said.
Experts and activists monitoring the situation believe future repatriation depends on the Myanmar government’s willingness to create a conducive environment for the refugees.
Amena Mohsin, professor of international relations at Dhaka University, told Arab News: “Myanmar didn’t make any sincere efforts to offer the Rohingya confidence or to create comfort among the distraught refugees. I think without the proper resolution of citizenship issues, Rohingya repatriation will not be possible.”