Three days ago, Tripolitans rose in the morning to the shocking sight of flames engulfing their newly-installed Christmas tree at Al-Nini roundabout. The atmosphere had been tense from the night before; when Lebanon witnessed violent encounters in the aftermath of the circulation of a video containing insults to religious figures.
Before burning the traditional Christmas tree, the arsonists proceeded to vandalize the office of the Sunni Mufti of Tripoli and the North, smashing windows, destroying the contents of the security room, and setting the room on fire.
"The burning of the tree for the first time in 9 years clearly aims to restore sectarian rhetoric and tarnish the city’s image," said some political and religious leaders. They blamed individual mischief-makers for the vandalism, asserting that Tripoli has always been a symbol of coexistence between all sects.
Decorated with the colors and cedar of the Lebanese flag, a new Christmas tree was soon-after installed in place of the one that was destroyed.
Tripoli's municipality, with the help of the civil society, set up a new tree in the same place, and it looks even better than before. Under the shade of their revived tree, the people of Tripoli showed the world the true image of their city; that of shared patriotism and mutual respect.
طرابلس الفيحاء طرابلس العروبة ليست بمزرعة وها هي شجرة المحبة والحياة تنور ساحتها. لن تكون طرابلس الوحدة الوطنية حصان طروادة. pic.twitter.com/JK5UMuPImC— Patriot (@Patriot72156407) December 21, 2019
The intentions of the vandals behind the offensive act, who were later identified and arrested by security forces, were obviously chaotic and malevolent.
They certainly didn't want to see the Tripolitans react the way they did; with civility and responsibility. They thought they could turn people against each other with such a weak maneuver.
Thankfully - and expectedly - their sinister plan failed. Instead of Tripoli's Christmas tree turning into a source of spite and unrest as he would have wanted, it became a symbol of the admirable harmonious spirit of the residents of that beautiful city.
Wearing its patriotic colors of red, white, and green, the tree stands tall today; a reminder of the resilience of Lebanon in the face of those who have tried to bring it down.
That Lebanese Flag Christmas Tree stands as a strong and beautiful statement of the stubbornness of the people of Tripoli in standing together, to push back against the evil flames that threaten to burn down their sacred principles of compassion and coexistence.