Worried LebaneseIt was 8:30 a.m. Friday December 23, 2005 when my cellular telephone rang. I picked it up and my friend Naji asked "are you still sleeping?" I asked him what's up and his answer was that the Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. has breaking news about an explosion in downtown Beirut. I told him that I haven't heard anything about such an explosion and did not hear an explosion. Few minutes later I jumped out of bed and headed toward the television and tuned to LBC. "An oxygen cylinder explodes in downtown Beirut," a breaking news tag read. I told myself thank God it is an oxygen cylinder since the last thing Beirut needs these days is an explosion. An increase in explosions in Lebanon in the past months have left most people living in fear. Every now and then rumors spread around the capital about a bomb threat or an expected attack on a major mall. Guards at the entrances of shopping malls and office buildings search people now going in. Guards at public parkings use special machines that detect explosives. Soldiers and security agents are seen in most of Beirut's streets. Moving around Beirut makes it clear that this year's Christmas is not like that of previous years. There aren't much decorations in the streets and the giant Christmas tree that was seen in the past years in Beirut's Martyrs Square won't be there this Christmas. The assassination of well-known journalist Gibran Tueini three weeks ago has scared people. People in Lebanon these days expect more assassinations.
"The scary thing these days is that we feel we cannot do anything but wait and see who will be assassinated next," a Lebanese journalist said.
December 24 at 12:15 a.m.