BEIRUT — Patrons of the Cloud 59 bar in Sour are reeling on Monday from an attack early Sunday morning by armed, masked men that attendees allege was motivated by homophobia.
No serious injuries were reported during the attack, which came one day after people beat demonstrators at a "freedom march" in downtown Beirut that had included LGBTQ+ rights activists. The party late Saturday night and early Sunday morning was not ostensibly pro-LGBTQ+, according to attendees, though suspected the attack came after social media posts showing rainbow flags.
Truncheons, knives and machine guns
"I want to tell you about something very dangerous, very ugly, very violent and above all disgusting," said Hind H. in an Instagram post.
Hind H. was a disc jockey at the party and had come with her family and friends to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the club.
"Masked cowards attacked us. Some came in with truncheons and knives, others were outside with machine guns," she recounted in several videos. She emphasized the "total absence of the state" and a "security mess" in the country.
"Some people broadcast images of the party and put a rainbow flag on them," explained Hind in her videos.
Sour's deputy mayor, Salah Sabraoui, said that the mass distribution of these images had prompted the attackers to come to the scene.
L'Orient-Le Jour was unable to identify the person or persons behind the images.
Shots fired in the presence of children
The manager and founder of Cloud 59, Dalia Farran, told L'Orient-Le Jour she was unable to speak on the phone. "I haven't had a voice for two days," she wrote in a message.
When the attackers came to warn her to cut her evening short, Farran wrote, "I screamed at them. I was furious. They weren't expecting that reaction. We kicked them out of our establishment."
"They attacked my bar from several sides, hitting the tables and shouting at the customers," recounted Farran. She explained that customers panicked, ran in all directions and some fainted when fires were shot by the attackers.
"There were families, elderly people and children," she added. While there were no serious injuries, some of her employees were hit.
"This event was not openly LGBTQ+," said deputy mayor Sabraoui.
"The events took place after 2 a.m. Our security staff had finished their shift at 11 p.m. But the police intervened quickly, and there was no outburst," he added.
He said that only one of the assailants was armed with a pistol. "Nothing serious happened. In fact, what happened was almost normal," he added.
Political analyst, economist and feminist researcher Hussein Cheaito reacted to the attack on X (formerly Twitter): "The country is quickly becoming unlivable, painful, enraging, scary, for so many of us."
Lebanon's LGBTQ+ community has been targeted by numerous attacks in recent months, both verbal and physical.
Earlier this summer, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called for the death penalty for liwat, which is an Arabic slur referring to LGBTQ+ people. On Aug. 23, the Soldiers of God group attacked a drag show in a Beirut bar, leaving members of the community traumatized.