I’m Polish and I’m European. Europe doesn’t really have one capital. For some it’s Brussels, for some it will be Rome, London, or Amsterdam. But if you asked them where the cultural capital of the Old Continent is, I’m sure Europeans would vote Paris. Isn’t this where our modern values are from?
As an European, I feel like yesterday’s attacks in Paris were an act against me, too. It was an attack on Europe. It shows that we can’t divide the world into safe and unsafe zones. There is no “Safe Fortress Europe” and “Burning Middle East” anymore.
Wait, not anymore. If this division ever existed, it only lived in our minds. There is one world and global dangers are the same for those living in Baghdad, Rome, Erbil, Warsaw, Beirut, London, Aleppo, and Paris.
I’m not a politician and this is a travel blog. I'm not even a journalist. But this is my very own corner of the internet. It's my party and I cry if I want to.
So I will, just because I can.
While my heart breaks for Paris today, there is one more city I can’t get out of my head. It’s Beirut, often nicknamed the Paris of the Middle East. Another city I visited and loved. Another city attacked by ISIS fanatics this week. Over 40 people died, majority of them were Muslims.
There were no safety checkers on Facebook. No apps producing Lebanese themed profile pictures. No social media solidarity with the victims. Western media called Burj El-Barajneh, the suburb where the attack took place, a Hezbollah stronghold, Hezbollah enclave or an area associated with Hezbollah. It's a civilian neighbourhood, mostly inhabited by Lebanese working class. Civilians have died there. This is what matters.
I live closer to Beirut than to Paris. I felt safe in both Beirut in Paris. I have friends in both Beirut and Paris. I adore both these cities.
I’ve seen tributes to Paris made by members of the travel blogging community today. The more I read, the more I felt that I must post one to Beirut and for Beirut. The people of Paris and the people of Beirut are victims of the same fanaticism and terrorism. We have to remember them all, equally.
We should, but we don’t and this makes me even sadder today. One world, remember?
Here is a photo essay to honor and celebrate Beirut. I’m posting it, because I know that it’s not a popular destination. I know that many people from the West hold numerous misconceptions about Lebanon and its capital. This post wants to show how modern, diverse, and vibrant Beirut really is.
I remember that when I was strolling around Beirut’s posh new downtown, I thought of Paris a lot. I was constantly reminded of the City of Lights. It made me smile that day. Today it makes me cry.
You are in my thoughts, my dear Paris of the Middle East. Stay strong.
This is Beirut I loved. This is Beirut I want to be remembered today. Thank you for reading this post.