My man Ben Gilbert has a radio report for PRI's The World about the conflict in Gemmayzeh. For those who haven't kept up with it, the residents of the neighborhood came out a couple of weeks ago in their PJs to protest the loud nightlife that goes on until 2-3 in the morning. The government decided to crack down, closing some 15-20 pubs on the strip for licensing problems and instituting a new curfew: 11:30 during the week and 1 am on weekends.
As it happens, I live in Gemmayzeh and also enjoy its pubs. I empathize with the protesters, because I've also been kept up during the week by drunken idiots, loud music blasting from expensive cars and drag racing valets. I'm not sure how this new ruling will hold up, but I do know that the residents had tried other more friendly means only to be told where they could stick their pillows.
One thing is sure, though: it's comforting to see something political that revolves around actual policies as opposed to sectarianism. Another example is the fight over the minimum wage and a teachers' strike a couple of weeks ago in public universities and public and private primary and secondary schools hoping for higher wages. The one thing, however, that depresses me is that with all the problems Lebanon faces, it seems that the one issue the youth seem fired up about is having to leave the bar an hour or two early. The youth don't seem too concerned about increasing the minimum wage (currently $200 a month), but they get absolutely fired up about pubs closing down.
But I guess no one ever claimed that Beirut had its priorities straight...