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'Disgusting and inhuman': Beirut explosion drama causes outrage

The announcement of drama series '6:07 Beirut' has been condemned as insensitive and unprofessional as people still recover from the explosion
In response to criticism of the new drama '6:07 Beirut', the Shahid website said: 'We heal with art and this is what’s intended.' (Screengrab)

The announcement of a new online drama focusing on the 4 August Beirut explosion has been called insensitive by social media users, who have also demanded that the show be cancelled., a video on-demand and leading TV catch-up service operating in the MENA region, announced that the original show would be airing on 17 October, which coincides with the first anniversary of the uprising in Lebanon.

The show, titled 6:07 Beirut, is described on the Shahid website as a series of 15 short films looking at the tragic Beirut explosion, highlighting the stories of those who were killed as well as survivors.

A trailer released by the website shows clips of people going about their daily lives, then cuts to scenes of chaos and devastation, as well as bloodied bodies on the ground.

The caption asks viewers: “On 4 August, where were you? Regardless of who you are, where you were, from the injured to the survivors … in the end we were all sacrificed.”

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In one scene, a woman is shown saying “We are not living. We are waiting for death”.

The trailer for the show was met with fierce condemnation on Twitter and Facebook.

One Facebook user accused the producers of the show of capitalising on the grief of those impacted by the blast.

“This is unacceptable. Less than three months later you’re launching a series? What happened to respecting people’s grief, trauma and sadness. The people of Beirut are still trying to rebuild … you’re trying to make money out of the misery of Beirut … shame on you,” the user commented under the announcement. 

The Facebook post has since been taken down by Shahid following the backlash and tweets promoting the show have also been deleted.

The official Shahid twitter account responded to criticism online by saying that the show was made to portray the stories of those who were affected by the blast to the rest of the world.

“We understand you and we hear you clearly. We want to reassure you that this project was made to shed light on the tragic event that happened to our beloved city Beirut and to Lebanon," the tweet read. 

"This is meant for the world to hear the stories of those who lost so much and were affected by this tragedy. We heal with art and this is what’s intended. We love you and we understand how you feel. May God be with you and us all.”

However, many people online were dissatisfied with the response, calling for it to be cancelled, claiming it was insensitive and taking advantage of people's pain.  

The 4 August port blast, which killed more than 190 people, wounded over 6,500 and left around 300,000 people displaced, was caused by a huge stockpile of ammonium nitrate stored at a warehouse for over six years.

Translation: The money that was greedily spent on this project could have been spent graciously to console and help the people who they are representing in the show. Shame. 

The highly explosive fertiliser, which was stored without safeguards, was ignited by a fire nearby and left surrounding areas destroyed.

Over two months later, an investigation into the disaster has yet to make its results public, leaving bereaved family members and the city's  residents in distress.

Last month, locals told Middle East Eye of their collective trauma following the explosion, in a city already suffering from an unprecedented economic crisis and political instability. 

Mental-health specialists say that while post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often occurs two to three months following a trauma, people in Lebanon are experiencing other mental disorders, such as insomnia, depression and anxiety. 

Psychologists also told MEE that many people in Lebanon were now facing mental health issues, with children left afraid that the explosion will happen again and debris still left on the streets reminding people of what happened. 

This article is available in French on Middle East Eye French edition.

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