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French Version


Demonstrators come by car, by boat - and yes, by bus

Tuesday's twin bus bombings near Bikfaya did not deter Lebanese from piling into minibuses, boats, cars and trucks on Wednesday and heading Downtown for a rally marking the anniversary of former Premier Rafik Hariri's killing.

Those who had the means opted to drive their own cars to the rally, while others took minibuses organized and paid for by political parties.

The Lebanese Forces even organized convoys of boats to ferry supporters from the North.

One person, disembarking from one of the boats, said that "we chose to come here by sea, even in February when the waves are choppy and it's dangerous, to show them that they can't stop us."

"Those who could pay for their own transportation from the Chouf, did," said Bassam Saleem, who commuted from the Chouf for the rally. "But for those who couldn't pay, the Progressive Socialist Party paid for these buses to take them today."

Most shrugged off fears over Tuesday's deadly bombings of two commuter buses in Ain Alaq.

"Nobody was scared to board the buses. Many people were in waiting in the town square and the Future Movement organized buses to take them for free to the commemoration," said Hassan Baradei, a bus driver from Baalbek. "There were many buses but there were so many people who wanted to come, there weren't enough buses."

Hundreds of buses parked, most at Karantina bridge, to drop off passengers. The kilometer-plus walk from the bridge to the protest was jammed with pedestrians for much of the day.

"Some people were scared to take buses but realized we had a point to make today - to mourn all of our lost leaders and loved ones," said Monie Hankash, head of women's affairs for the Phalange Party. "Just after yesterday's bus bombings there was a panic but later at night people started calling us and telling us they wanted to come."

The buses were checked for explosives by security officials from each party.

"We rented buses belonging to individuals and from people who own small [bus companies]," said Hankash. "We checked the buses for bombs. Since the attack on Sheikh Pierre [Gemayel, the industry minister assassinated in November], we've been more vigilant with our people."

For others, traveling by bus was another way to show defiance by continuing with everyday tasks.

"They tried to scare us with Tuesday's bombs, but a lot of buses showed up anyway," said 20-year-old university student Dolly Eid. "I have always taken public transport and will continue to do so."

Beirut 15-02-2007
Redaction
The Daily Star



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