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Media Silence on Beirut Bombing Is Personal

Mariano Avila

Last week’s tragedy in Paris has dominated news, politics, and social media. But little is being said about the twin ISIS bombing in Beirut, Lebanon and Baghdad, Iraq the day before. The silence is more personal to some than to others.

Albert Khussan is a middle-aged man with a drowsy smile and gray stubble who loves to talk about Beirut, Lebanon, the hometown he left for West Michigan nearly 25 years ago.

“I was born in Beirut. Grew up. I went to American University of Beirut in Lebanon and after that I moved to France," says Khusan. "I lived in France for a few years and I decided that I wanted to come to the United States.”

Today Khussan works at a men’s clothier in Eastown. He visits Lebanon often and when I asked about his latest trip he handed me his cell phone, just loaded with pictures of those gardens, restaurants, and nightclubs that give Beirut the name the Paris of the Middle East.

“Lebanon is a beautiful country, it’s a peaceful country," he says. "As we say, God created Lebanon on the seventh day.”

A day before Paris, France was attacked, Beirut suffered its own tragedy.

“Two ISIS people that they blew themselves [up] in Beirut and they killed 49 people," says Khussan. "Mostly were kids because they did it in front of a school and there was some parents that were waiting to pick up their kids. So the major people that they died were kids and their parents."

Adding to the pain of the attack, Khussan says he felt upset at what he says is very, poor coverage, near silence here in the United States.

“[It’s] as if the people that live there is not like people or what. It doesn’t have the same value as a human being compared to the others or to the West or anything like that?”

Now, the coverage France gets isn’t what upsets Khussan. He says he feels bad for the people of Paris and refers to France as Lebanon’s mother.

What he wishes is that from Wealthy Street, where he sells clothes, to Paris, France; to the Beirut where he was born, these tragedies wouldn’t happen to anyone - but that when they do, they matter to everyone. 

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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