Kicked out

The following post is a condensation of fairly complex situation that to this day I have not fully understood but here is what I know.

Winter, is slowly starting to wear off leaving place to a warm and  sunny morning. February is ending and having followed Lebanese embassy in Brussels advice to enter Lebanon as a tourist I have to renew my visa for a month before I leave the country. Getting in Lebanon with a tourist entry is fairly simple and a 2 month permission can easily be renewed for a month. So I thought and so I was told anyways.

The adequate office for these matters in Lebanon is the General Security and you understand why they use the word security instead of administration when you discover that all the state employed workers are dressed in military uniform making the whole process quite intimidating. After a quick search of my bag the guard in front of the building in Sour waves me in by lowering his AK 47. To be honest I have never associated the word administration with the words quick and simple but the corridor I cross to find the right office wins in my book the first prize for a state run mayhem. Afterall they did learn from the best since Lebanon was a french protectorate.

After a short enough wait I find myself in front of an officer who takes my passport and not understanding what I’m doing in Lebanon starts interrogating me on my activities and whereabouts in the country. I leave the building an hour later without my passport but with the promise of getting it back with an exit stamp once the paperwork is finished. For the next month and a half I will continue my work in Lebanon with an uneasy hunch that something bad will happen. Nethertheless a week before my leave, I’m invited to pay 80$ and collect my passport in Beirut with the stamp allowing me to leave with the assurance that I will be able to get back in Lebanon after my vacation. So I thought and so I was told anyways.

Its around 8pm local time when our plane hits the tarmac of Beirut Rafic Hariri international airport as we return from our two week break. Half an hour later I’m at passport control and my face appears on a screen when the officer enters my name on the computer. I’m firmly asked to step aside, told that I’m not allowed in Lebanon anymore and I’m to be deported (at my own expense) on the first plane to Paris. From my small experience with military and officials I decide obediently to follow the guard who escorts me to the room where a nigerian national is already locked up. I will wait there with the door unlocked for my flight heading to France. The man tells me that he was hired to work but his employer never showed up, he had been locked up for the past three days. I can’t help to compare that in an equally illegal situation a person with european passport will be held with the door open, allowed to go to the toilet, choose his sandwich and that a person with an african passport will be held for three days in a locked room.  Its only after two months and thanks to a kind person that I will be allowed back but without the permission to take photos. No matter though since my only concern was at that time to access and develop my negatives that were blocked in Sour.

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