Beirut’s lone communist inspired bar toasts the life of Fidel Castro.
LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:
Fidel Castro is being remembered all over the world, as far afield as the Lebanese capital Beirut. There, NPR’s Alison Meuse found a shrine to the heyday of Lebanon’s Communist Party.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: Hello.
ALISON MEUSE, BYLINE: When you walk into the hole-in-the-wall that is Abu Elie, you feel nostalgia. The playlist hasn’t changed in years, maybe decades. Neither has the decor. The walls are lined with images of Che Guevara, communist memorabilia from around the world and a lone black and white picture of Fidel Castro. For Rayan Charaa, the place reminds her of her father’s political past.
RAYAN CHARAA: They had thoughts. They had ideas. They thought we can improve by trying to give back to the community.
MEUSE: During Lebanon’s 15-year civil war, the communists and their allies were a force in this part of Beirut. Today, they’re largely irrelevant.
CHARAA: We’re frustrated. We’re depressed. We feel that we’re living at the end of an era.
MEUSE: Outside, I find Ahmed Hazimi, who’s reminiscing about the old days.
AHMED HAZIMI: We used to come and meet friends and comrades. It have a lot of memories in here.
MEUSE: But he didn’t see any familiar faces tonight.
HAZIMI: It’s becoming like a museum. People who come say, oh, wow, look at the wall. Look at all the pictures. It’s sad.
MEUSE: Hazimi thinks a lot of people have become more self-centered or guided by religion, so it’s comforting to come back here, he says. His toast is for the future, not Fidel.
HAZIMI: For tomorrow.
(SOUNDBITE OF CLINKING GLASSES)
HAZIMI: Alison Meuse, NPR News, Beirut.