Minister reportedly denies role in latest demolition

The photo above was posted on the Facebook group Save Beirut Heritage yesterday evening. According Nabil Najjar, who authored the post, the building being destroyed above on Mar Elias street was this one:

Now reduced to rubble:

Interestingly Najjar then posted a follow-up comment later last night (Saturday) saying he had just received a phone call from the Minister of Culture, who apparently told him the demolition took place “without permission.”

It’s interesting that the minister–at least according to Najjar–is blaming the municipality, the governor and the interior ministry.

It’s even more interesting that the minister seems to be closely following such heritage activist groups, which he has dismissed in the past, claiming “not a single member has a degree in history” during an interview with MTV. (Ironically the culture minister is trained as an engineer with no apparent background in history himself)

But what does it all mean? Did the minister actually phone Najjar? And if the building was demolished “without permission” does that mean the Minister did not know about it? And if he did know about it, did he do anything to stop it?

I tried to get more info from Najjar, but didn’t come up with much.

Why doesn’t the minister explain things himself? Or has social media simply become a new way for politicians to float vague accusations and shield themselves from accountability?

In other online news, Lebanon’s minister of telecom, who presides over one of the slowest and most expensive connections on earth, was busy on Instagram this weekend. And it looks like he’s also staring in a movie. He posted this photo on Facebook today.

The caption:

Helplessly watching heritage sites crumbling around town or refraining from using the internet “too much” because it’s so expensive, most Lebanese probably don’t feel very free at all.