Nahr al-Kalb is a historic site in Keserwan that contains a lot of important religious iconography and historical memorials. The Free Patriotic Movement, with the approval of former Minister of Culture Ghattas Khoury, is currently building a major headquarters in the area.
On the morning of February 23rd, dozens of protesters decided to march to the construction site and condemn the FPM for destroying an important part of Lebanese heritage for political gain. The protesters believe that the project has also negative environmental consequences.
For many of them, FPM’s plan to construct the headquarters was approved without the necessary studies required to verify the safety of this project.
Head of Terre Liban, Paul Abi Rashid, told the media that “the private building project of the FPM is not based on any environmental impact study, despite the area’s archaeological importance.”
In a press release issued on the day of the protests, the group demanded the immediate halt of the construction “in respect of the laws and to avoid the continued violation and sabotage.”
On their campaign material, the group points out that the project violates article 444 of the Lebanese law, which sets limits on the emissions that can be released into the environment.
They added that the project “builds on the ruins of a Crusader-era tower, and is adjacent to the Nahr al-Kalb valley … in which there are around 24 inscriptions and monuments dating back to 2000 BC.”
However, the FPM claims otherwise, saying they have “all the necessary licenses from the relevant ministries” to go ahead with the construction, which began in August 2019 with ground excavations.
They slammed the opposition to the construction of their headquarters as being politicized and that it was a “systematic campaign targeting [the FPM],” according to a statement by their media committee.
They also denied that the project had any negative impact on the environment or that it will “infringe any archaeological, environmental, natural, or historical sites.”
The vice-president of FPM, May Khoreiche, in an interview with L’Orient Le Jour, claimed that the studies that were made relating to the construction were approved by the General Planning Directorate.
However, in 2003, the GDA had declared the area a “non-buildable zone” and declined to give the party a permit when the project was first proposed to the Higher Council for Urban Planning 2 years ago.