This weekend I was planning on meeting up with a friend in Lebanon. As soon as I landed at the Beirut Airport, I was firmly denied access for the following reason: My recent trip to Israel. More precisely, they told me that they don’t accept someone of Arabic origin who has visited Israel in Lebanon.
The problem was therefore not the fact that I had visited Israel, but that I had visited this country whilst having Arab origins. In their eyes, that made me a traitor.
The French embassy have no idea how they knew this since my passport hadn’t even been stamped at that time.
Anyway, visiting Israel has no link with advocating for the Israeli government in the Arab-Israeli conflict, even less so in the Lebanese-Israeli conflict. I don't currently belong to any party, any organisations.
I am French. I'm neither Jew nor a Lebanese. My father is of Algerian origin, my mother is French. But Israel stops me and questions me systematically for hours because of my Algerian origins. Then Lebanon denies me access to the country because of my trip to Israel. What next? Could I go back to Israel after my attempt to enter Lebanon? Could I return to Algeria or will they react like Lebanon did? This middle east is gonna drives me schizophrenic.
I was locked up in a room for 24h and then sent back to France, at my own expense. In this room I also found myself in the company of a large Syrian family who was fleeing the war. They had asked for refuge in Lebanon so that they could join their cousins there.They were cruelly denied access.
In this photo, the mother clutches her crying daughter to her chest. She gazes out at Beirut through our room’s window, as it dawns on her that she’ll never set foot in this city and that her journey hasn’t yet come to an end.
Although this is a low-quality photo taken with my phone, to me, it conveys a lot of meaning.
After spending several hours speaking about Syria, they handed me this banknote to remember them by. I was touched by their gesture.
When I see the problems encoutered by a "rich" Syrian family in their flight from war, I'm afraid to fathom the difficulties encountered by those who can’t even afford to purchase airplane tickets.