Contradictions urbaines et guerre civile: La destruction du bidonville de ‘la Quarantaine’à Beyrouth


The slum area of Quarantina formed part of Beirut near the coast. Migrants of disparate origins—nomads (Bedouins from Saudi Arabia), Kurds from Turkey, Palestinian refugees, Syrian labourers and uprooted Lebanese peasants from the south‐settled on land belonging to state officials and to religious institutions, and gradually built up a network of marginal economic and social life. They soon became considered as dangerous social outcasts—as the pariahs of Christian eastern Beirut and of the Lebanese social hierarchy. Although providing the surrounding industries with a consistent labour force, their activities were feared because of subversive political implications. Communication between Palestinian camps and slum areas of Beirut led to raised political consciousness among the Quarantina inhabitants: the ideology of the Palestinian revolution became the symbol of a new struggle. The interlinking of both causes, that of the Lebanese masses and that of the Palestinian refugees, precipitated the repressive action taken by the conservative forces. Quarantina contained an insignificant proportion of Palestinians; nevertheless its inhabitants could possibly organize into embryonic revolutionary movements and give birth to urban guerilla warfare. The slum also obstructed the expansion of the Christian quarter of Achrafieh and impeded the partition projects of the right‐wing Phalangist party. The repressive action meted out to the urban population of Quarantina took a particularly violent form. The men were massacred, shot down before their families. The dwellings were plundered. The site, cleared of its ‘gangrene’, is now ready for the construction of a new tourist complex.