The Phoenix in the Martyrs’ Square of Beirut Is Not Just a Statue

“The idea is that, no matter how much they break us, we come back and make something more beautiful and fly higher.”

Reborn from what remains of its own ashes, shedding its scars and reminders of the past, the phoenix rises against all odds and takes its first breath – again.

The ancient mythical bird has been an inspiration for humans since its inception by the Greeks 500 years B.C. Today, it stands tall in Martyrs’ Square, conveniently built from the rubble of the fist that was burnt down by anonymous assailants.

In the early morning of Lebanon Independence Day, Friday, November 22, the symbolic fist planted in Martyrs’ Square by the revolutionaries in the first week of the revolution was set on fire by unidentified individuals. Frankly, it was a bit of an upsetting scene to wake up to and see the foundations of the statue of the revolution melting in flames.

Watching it burn was saddening for those who looked up at it with pride – true – but the view of the firey fist, perhaps, also gave them a sense of empowerment and inspiration to turn their misfortune into something useful… A flaming fist is a true symbol of an uprising; it represents resistance in the face of overshadowing threats. 

“I saw that and said to myself, ‘The phoenix is going up today,’” said 32-year-old Hayat Nazer to The Daily Star as she stood in Martyrs’ Square next to the work-in-progress of the statue arching several meters over her head.

The statue of the phoenix was initially Hayat’s idea; it dawned on her the day frustrated mobs went down to the demonstration sites back on October 25, lay waste to the tents and equipment there, and attacked the peaceful protesters.

But as the inspirational artist told The Daily Star, the sculpture soon ceased being her own; it became related to every man and woman on the streets. Even though she voiced the idea, it may never have been realized if not for the hands of those who helped shape and build the symbolic creature.

The Phoenix is a product of the collective mind and effort of the Martyrs’ Square campers and protesters.

From the ashes of the destroyed symbol was born a more valuable one; a statue that immortalizes the continuous failure of the aggressors to demotivate the revolutionaries on one hand, and the revolutionaries’ constructive and reformational outlook on the other.

The Phoenicians were famous in their ancient times for their miraculous comebacks from devastating losses. Being their descendants, the Lebanese must have inherited their civility, resilience, and determination.

Their epic civilization thrived for seven millennia and their spirit still lives on in our people today, teaching the world as they did about resilience, innovation, and peace.

Hayat Nazer said it best: “The idea is that, no matter how much they break us, we come back and make something more beautiful and fly higher.”

The statue of the phoenix is another witness of the true image of the October 17 revolution and the demeanor of its people. It was made from the tent poles and furniture from the area in Martyr’s Square that was trashed by anti-demonstration mobs.


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