One of the most common questions we get from family and friends back home about our life in Lebanon is “do you feel safe?”
We generally answer that, yes, we feel very safe. We feel more safe walking the streets of Beirut that we would in any major city in the States. And it’s true. Of course, we live in a volatile region. Car bomb assassinations and rocket attacks happen. We went through a spate of kidnappings last summer that kept us indoors for a while. But, petty crime has always been relatively low. Random violent crime is even lower.
However, it seems that things have been changing recently… at least the talk around town is that crime is rising. And of course, there is a very easy scapegoat. Many people, news organizations, politicians blame the rise in crime on the influx of Syrian refugees into Lebanon.
Now I don’t doubt that desperate people often do desperate things – especially when they are being taken advantage of right and left. Yet at the same time, blaming the refugees for the (perceived?) rise in crime borders on racism. But what is really awful is the way several communities have decided to “fight” crime in their cities.
This sign in Mansourieh (where Caleb teaches) advises all Syrians to register themselves and to stay inside their homes after 8pm “for their own safety.” Apparently some of the other cities are not quite specific and just address ‘foreigners’…. but you can bet they wouldn’t stop us if we were out after 8.