Tuesday, September 25
In Beirut, even Christians celebrated the atrocity.
BY ELISABETTA BURBA
Saturday, September 22, 2001 12:01 a.m. EDT
BEIRUT--Where were you on Sept. 11, when terrorists changed the world? I
was at the National Museum here, enjoying the wonders of the ancient
Phoenicians with my husband. This tour of past splendor only magnified the
shock I received later when I heard the news and saw the reactions all
around me. Walking downtown, I realized that the offspring of this great
civilization were celebrating a terrorist outrage. And I am not talking
about destitute people. Those who were cheering belonged to the elite of
the Paris of Middle East: professionals wearing double-breasted suits,
charming blond ladies, pretty teenagers in tailored jeans.
Trying to find our bearings, my husband and I went into an American-style
cafe in the Hamra district, near Rue Verdun, rated as one of the most
expensive shopping streets in the world. Here the cognitive dissonance was
immediate, and direct. The café's sophisticated clientele was celebrating,
laughing, cheering and making jokes, as waiters served hamburgers and Diet
Pepsi. Nobody looked shocked, or moved. They were excited, very excited.
An hour later, at a little market near the U.S. Embassy, on the outskirts
of Beirut, a thrilled shop assistant showed us, using his hands, how the
plane had crashed into the twin towers. He, too, was laughing.