TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Residents of the Tripoli neighborhood of Zahrieh were still reeling from attacks targeting businesses owned by Christians and Alawites over the weekend, with some fearing the incidents were meant to fuel sectarian hostilities. The attacks took place overnight by unidentified armed men, as owners were surprised to learn early Friday when they arrived at the main street of Zahrieh to open up their shops. They rummaged through the debris, as many shops had been burned, to see if any of their merchandise could be salvaged.
All of the owners belong to the Christian and Alawite communities of Zahrieh, causing some observers to muse that they were paying the price for long-standing sectarian tensions in the northern city.
The affected shop owners, identified as Fadi Khoury, Jean Maamari, George Rachkidi, Farid Estephan, Tamim al-Atrash and the owners of retail chains Eskandar and the Nidal boutique, expressed frustration over the incidents, saying they were shocked and saddened that their properties had been damaged and fearful that there were certain parties in Tripoli seeking to remove them from the city.
Belonging to a minority group in Tripoli, some shop owners said they didn’t have authority figures to complain to either.
“My neighbor called at 6 a.m., and told me that plumes of smoke could be seen billowing from my shops after unidentified men attacked the stores and threw fire bombs,” shop owner Maamari told The Daily Star. “When we arrived at the scene it was horrible, we could see our properties and stores, our only means of making a living, burning before our eyes.”
“There is no one here to protect us, because we live in Tripoli,” Maamari said dejected. Residents have long complained that the area is underdeveloped and constantly overlooked by the government, centered in Beirut.
Read more: (The Daily Star :: Lebanon News )