Murder in Bourj Hammoud: Another Signal of the Decline of the Great Beirut Community
Cover photo: Nicholas A. Heras
On 31st August, in one of the central neighborhoods of Bourj Hammoud (a suburb of Lebanon, Beirut) - traditionally regarded as an Armenian town in Lebanon - a clash occurred between the Syrians and the Armenians, which turned into a true ethnic altercation. Unfortunately, as a result of that incident, people were killed from both sides. The killed Armenian was Khosrov Kurdian – an artisan and an active member of the Armenian community.
A lot of representatives of the Armenian community of Lebanon were present at the memorial service for Khosrov Kurdian, including the members of the party “Dashnaktsutyun”, Armenian deputies and other Armenian ministers. Based on the amount of people present at the ceremony and their positions, it appears that it was not a little neighborhood murder.
The Lebanese and the Western mass-media actively were keeping the topic in a cyclical fashion and were introducing it from different angles. The Lebanese political scientist and writer Joseph Abu Fadel accuses the “Dashanktsutyun” of not providing the security of the town and diminishing the crime, even if they were controlling the town and were supported by the Armenians in all the elections.
Bourj Hammoud is the hearth of the oldest Armenian community in the world, which for a long time stood apart as an example of a developing, patriotic and initiative community, as a community with its unique color and culture. Unfortunately, nothing is left today from that old glorious community.
Earlier, the murder of an Armenian in the Armenian town was difficult to imagine, hence the recent trends indicate the weakening of the Armenian community which is connected with main factors: while numerous Arab refugees resettle there from Syria and gradually displace the Armenian Christian community, many Lebanese Armenians leave the town because of bad political and economic conditions.
One of the Lebanese Armenians says that if earlier in the Armenian districts there were signboards only written in Armenian, now the larger number is in Arabic. Moreover, not in all stores you can speak Armenian. As local people mention, there used to be eight Armenian educational institutions, but they were closed and united into one as a result. Half of the students went to Arabic colleges and universities, as studies in the Armenian institutions became more expensive and their location was inconvenient.
The "Dashnaktsutyun" party rules the town and while it is engaged in holding onto power, more and more Armenians from Lebanon are migrating to Europe and the US, becoming a part of local Armenian communities.