Saturday, September 11, 2021

Lebanon: 9/11 twenty years later

Artwork by Tarek Chemaly (Manhattan Mon Amour)

I have no idea where the French embassy is in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. In 2003, the company driver knew. He took my passport along with two photographs the art director in the cubicle next to me took on the white wall of the office. My visa was picked up later, thank you very much. 

If I am relating this incident it is because, thanks (or rather no thanks) to Ziad Jarrah, one of the 26 terrorists who executed the attacks, for a Lebanese, getting a visa went from difficult to nearly impossible (interestingly, considering the majority of them were Saudi nationals, these visa nightmares did not apply to them). Sure it did not help that the Lebanese, through time and their own silly machinations, built a very bad rap for themselves worldwide (please, don't be silly all denominations included - because I know people will inject in this sentence their own political views. Hint: Maronites in Australia are labelled "wogs" - a very unflattering term if there was ever one. So anyone trying to twist my words, chill). 

Still, if you are a Lebanese in the Gulf, obtaining a visa did not even necessitate you going to the embassy. If you were a Lebanese, in Lebanon, the hurdles to get the said visa were immense. And the difficulties increase by the day. I can spend several posts detailing my embassy/airport misadventures. I have spoken to Saudi nationals, and no, they did not get the same treatment.

All this is a reminder that the consequences of the 9/11 attacks were unevenly spread. In the Western media the talk is about the 2,448 US servicemen who died in Afghanistan. Small reminder, there were also 46,000 Afghan civilian casualties. People, who literally had zero terrorist nationals among the 26 who executed the attack.