BEIRUT: Lebanese politicians have marked the 48th anniversary of the country’s civil war — a 15-year conflict that cost more than 120,000 lives and forced 1 million people to flee — by playing a football match.
Former energy and water minister Nada Boustani was among MPs from different political backgrounds who took to the pitch in the friendly contest against members of the Civil Defense at a stadium in Dbayeh, north of Beirut.
According to MP Simon Abi Ramia, the football match sent “message of peace and love” that could be shared in political meetings, helping to reach solutions at a national level.
“This is an opportunity to overcome political differences so that future generations will not live the experience of conflict and fighting or violent clashes,” he said.
Community groups around Lebanon also recalled the outbreak of the civil war on April 13, 1975 with cultural and social activities.
But amid the country’s economic turmoil, many Lebanese said they were too busy with daily concerns to join the commemorative events.
One man, a 61-year-old university professor from the Shiah area, near Beirut, said: “We failed to learn anything from the war and its horrific repercussions. We are still in the vortex of war.”
The man, who declined to be named, said that political rivals have “almost reopened the closed chapters of the war. It is as if they do not want to admit that the war was never really over.”
Politicians voiced hopes that the war would not be repeated.
Former prime minister Saad Hariri tweeted: “April 13 is a date that always reminds us of the curse of those who start civil wars and the mercy of those who end them.”
Samir Geagea, head of the Lebanese Forces Party, tweeted: “We were never fans of the war.”
Independent MP Neemat Frem said: “Isn’t it time to learn our lessons from history? There are no victories in wars that destroy homelands and people.”
Free Patriotic Movement MP Edgard Traboulsi, said: “Fifteen years of madness, massacres, displacement, destruction, and continuous tragedies; 32 years later and some have not learned. May God protect Lebanon.”
MP Tony Frangieh, the son of Hezbollah’s presidential candidate Suleiman Frangieh, said: “The war is over. Unfortunately, its repercussions continued. This is why there is no alternative to dialogue, honesty, tolerance, forgiveness, and unity around a common vision for a safe and prosperous tomorrow.”
Fouad Abou Nader, a Christian politician and former leader of the Lebanese Forces, said: “Lawmakers are commemorating the war with a football match and are not addressing the causes of the problem and the power struggle.”
He added: “Lebanon is still living with the repercussions of April 13 daily. Officials did not learn from these bitter experiences, as if they had adapted to them.”