In Beirut, the Armenian community, which originally settled there to escape Turkish persecution early in the century, now finds itself caught between the front lines of the Moslem and Christian sectors in the city.
In Beirut, the Armenian community, which originally settled there to escape Turkish persecution early in the century, now finds itself caught between the front lines of the Moslem and Christian sectors in the city. In the recent fighting, the Armenians were caught in the crossfire, and despite their declared neutrality in the conflict, more than 100 of their number died when rockets and shells fell in their quarter.
SYNOPSIS: In spite of their long association with the city, the Armenians have maintained their own cultural and national identity in Lebanon. Their language is preserved in shop sings, books and newspapers. They even have their own militia -- the Tashnag defence force, to defend the square mile of narrow streets that make up their part of the city.
The community increased in size dramatically after the war in Palestine in 1948. Many who came then still possess only Palestinian refugee documents and have not been able to adopt Lebanese nationality. Others have integrated completely into their new life, occupying important roles in the administration, and in business.
The Armenians say they wanted no part in the recent war. They wanted good relations with both sides. But the Christians, in particular, have been fiercely critical of the community. They say that since the Armenians are Christian, they should support the Phalangists.