Monday, December 18, 2006

Hizbullah helped defuse spat, club owner says

Hizbullah helped defuse spat, club owner says
By Iman Azzi
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: A verbal confrontation between a Downtown reveler and anti-government protesters over the weekend undercut hopes that area businesses might operate as normal while the protests continue. After several days of negotiations between the owners of Taboo nightclub, Hizbullah security and the Lebanese Army, the club opened its doors on Saturday for the first time since anti-government protesters set up camp in Downtown Beirut on December 1. Over 300 regular customers came to Taboo as Hizbullah "discipline men" patrolled outside. "Hizbullah and the Lebanese Army were all very co-operative. This was a sign of good faith. Hizbullah even told us: 'We're not here to stop you from working,'" Haytham S., co-owner of the nightclub, told The Daily Star. Haytham, who refused to give his full name, said they worked to reopen the club for both financial and "goodwill" reasons.

"But the incident happened between one man who was going into the club and demonstrators outside and they had a verbal clash. Hizbullah security had to let the customer back in and they tried to calm down the crowd as the crowd multiplied," he explained. By 2 a.m., Hizbullah security had created a human shield between the crowd of demonstrators and Taboo. "They secured a path and let everyone out safely and protected the customer who first started this the most as they wanted no one to get hurt. There was no physical abuse to anyone," Haytham said. He denied earlier television reports that Hizbullah had forced the nightclub to close or disapproved that the club served alcohol. "They asked us if we wanted to stay," Haytham said. "And we said no." "We wanted to see what would happen if we opened for business, but it didn't turn out the best way," he said, adding that although Hizbullah security had been very co-operative and helpful Taboo has no plans to open as long as the demonstrations continue.

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