For many in Lebanon, the gun battle that broke out at a protest rally on 14 October brought back bitter memories of the country’s 15-year civil war. A special episode of SAT-7 programme You Are Not Alone was broadcast just two days after the clashes. It shared survivors’ voices, called for peace, and encouraged prayer as life becomes more and more difficult in Lebanon.
“My daughter is two years old. She didn’t understand what happened,” says Bchara Airani, who was trying to escape the violence with his two-year-old daughter when a missile exploded in front of their car.
“She was laughing, and then she was shocked. When I talked to her, she wouldn’t answer.” Since then, Bchara says, he and his wife have been worried for their daughter, who has been sleeping far more than usual. “We hope she is not traumatised. We leave it in God’s hands,” he says.
Before picking his daughter up from nursery Bchara said he had had to navigate his way through or around streets full of hundreds of protesters and heavy gunfire.
Bchara felt he was experiencing what his parents lived through during the 1975-90 civil war. “It is a very bad feeling to be living this again, in 2021, when we are in peacetime. I refuse to accept that my children should live through what I lived through.”
You Are Not Alone’s Sirene Semerdjian also spoke to Clarissa and Lucas, a brother and sister who were in their school building, very close to the violence. They said that everyone was frightened, especially fearing injury from the large glass windows in their classrooms.
“I didn’t react much; I was strong. But once I got home, I started crying, I released all my emotions,” said Clarissa. Asked what he would say to those perpetrating violence, Lucas said, “God will forgive you if you stop doing these things.” Clarissa added, “Your weapons drive us to war. To things that we don’t want to live through.”
The children ended by saying they would pray for Lebanon’s protection and an end to the crisis. The episode also included input from a psychologist as well as a church leader, who led viewers in prayer for the nation.
This episode is a shout of refusal to all violence”
“This episode is a shout of refusal to all violence and clashes that are happening in Lebanon and to say to every Lebanese who is living fear, you are not alone,” said Sirene during the episode.
“It is time we silence all sounds and listen to one sound – the Lord’s voice – and do His will and put our lives and destinies in Lebanon in His hands. He is able to provide light for all the darkness we are living in.”
A balanced message
SAT-7’s Lebanon team feel that as their country goes through immense suffering – with three-quarters of the country in poverty due to a complex and dire financial and political crisis – their role in offering hope through media only becomes more important.
“We have lived through this before in our lives, in our childhoods,” says Maroun Bou Rached, Executive Director of SAT-7 Lebanon. “Lebanon is going through a very difficult time and we are expecting it to get worse. But our mission now is to help others – help others to stay in Lebanon, including Christians. If our ministry were to leave, then how would we be able to help others?”
George Makeen, SAT-7 Arabic Channels International Director, adds, “Please keep praying for Lebanon. What was already a difficult situation has become even more complicated by these developments. In response to the violence, SAT-7 is sharing a balanced message: one of hope, while highlighting the importance of seeking justice without using force. This is very important in light of these events. Please pray for our viewers and for peace on Lebanon’s streets.”