Monday, March 31, 2008

Gemmayzeh residents protest hijacking of quiet nights, parking spots

Gemmayzeh residents protest hijacking of quiet nights, parking spots
Daily Star staff

BEIRUT: More than a hundred residents of Gemmayzeh blocked the main street Saturday evening to protest against the noise caused by loud music coming from pubs until the early hours of the morning, as well as congestion caused by valet parking in the area. Wearing night gowns and pajamas, women and children blocked the road for about an hour and a half, carrying pillows and placards that read "enough, we need to sleep" in three languages. The protest that brought the street to standstill attracted wide media coverage and was orderly and without any incidents under the eyes of the security forces and the Lebanese Army, who kept the order and diverted the heavy traffic, which is normal for a Saturday. Gemmayzeh Street is known to be one of the most famous night attractions in the Lebanese capital, and several thousand clients visit the more than 70 outlets in the area on a daily basis.

The grievances of people living in the same buildings where pubs and bars are operating have been voiced before without any results. Among other complaints, residents say valet parking has hijacked their parking spaces, forcing them to park their cars hundreds of meters away, even under the rain. The protest meanwhile, has prompted the owners of the watering houses to call for a meeting with representatives of the Gemmayzeh residents and associations to reach an amicable solution to the problem. Should the problem escalate, residents have told The Daily Star they are ready to keep on protesting until their complaints are addressed. In the meantime, residents are meeting to plan their next moves, which might include filing an official complaint with the Lebanese judiciary, and holding meetings to carry out their ordeal with the tourism minister, the acting governor of Beirut and top religious officials. - The Daily Star

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