BEIRUT: Free Patriotic Movement MP Roger Azar Monday assured the public that a new party headquarters in Nahr al-Kalb would not destroy the area’s archeological heritage, clarifying comments made the day before by FPM leader Gebran Bassil.
Bassil had said during a trip to the Nahr al-Kalb area that the FPM would build its new headquarters on the top of what he called the “Independence Rock,” a site featured on the UNESCO Memory of the World register with more than 20 historic commemorative stelae carved into it.
This caused some concern among activists, who questioned whether the project would distort the environment surrounding the historical site. According to UNESCO, the site “[sums] up the entire history of Lebanon, from High Antiquity to the present, evoking clearly the successive advances of the Pharaonic, Assyro-Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Arab, French and British armies which braved all the obstacles surrounding this difficult and very steep crossing point to carve commemorative [stelae] on the rocks."
Azar clarified that the headquarters would be built in a place not visible from the historical site, on Dbayeh’s side of the mountain. “Bassil spoke this way because of its symbolism,” he told The Daily Star.
“We are the first to respect historical artifacts and Lebanon’s history, and we are in compliance with law,” he said.
Jad Tabet, the head of the Order of Engineers and Architects, told The Daily Star that “there is no problem,” with the planned project. He said the FPM had put forward the plan to the Higher Council for Urban Planning, a state council on which he sits, and they had agreed to it after some amendment.
“It was too close to the head of the mountain, so we made them move it back a bit, close to the [nearby] Palestinian camp,” he said.