(K. Brent Tomer),
NEARLY three decades after the end of the civil war in Lebanon, the façade of the Barakat building in central Beirut is still pitted with bullet holes. Craters in its limestone walls have been patched with concrete and its elegant colonnade is held up by ugly metal struts. Inside, the upper flights of two stone staircases hang above rubble-strewn voids. The lower sections were blown apart by snipers to prevent anyone getting upstairs. The ceilings are scorched black and barricades of concrete-reinforced sandbags still divide some rooms in two. The Arabic graffiti scrawled by Christian militiamen have never been erased. One signed himself Begin, after the former Israeli prime minister. Another says simply: “Hell”.
Built in the 1920s, the building started off as the home of the wealthy Barakat family. But after the civil war began in 1975, it became a notorious snipers’ nest on the front line between east and west Beirut. Its site, coupled…Continue reading