LEBANON: Syriac singer Abeer Nehme spreads hope and sings for Beirut port explosion victims, their families, and those made homeless

BEIRUT — “Beirut Chants for Hope,” an evening of spiritual hymns and patriotic songs, was held in Mar Maroun Church in the Gemmayze district in downtown Beirut on Wednesday, opposite the site of the 4 August explosion at Beirut’s port that killed 191 people, injured over 6,500, and left 300,000 other homeless.

The event began at 18:07, the time at which the horrific explosion had taken place.

Lebanese Syriac singer Abeer Nehme, backed up by the Antonine University Choir, sung sentimental religious hymns and patriotic songs.

The 50-minute event was broadcast via loudspeakers at seven points within the city center for Beirut’s residents..

The spiritual evening was also broadcast live on TV via the Lebanese MTV channel, Facebook, and other social media platforms.

Supervisor of the event Micheline Abi Samra said, “This evening is a greeting to all the innocent people who lost their lives in the port explosion and a condolence to their families and the people who lost their homes.”

She added, “We wanted to pray together for all of them. By prayer and music, we wanted to carry a gleam of hope into our country that is dominated by blackness and destruction.”

“I feel suffocated,” said singer Abeer Nehme. “It is difficult for me to sing, but it is the only thing that I can do.”

“It is not a festive evening, but an evening of prayer with the people,” Nehme continued. “With music, we raise our voice with the people of Beirut. We are living in a great tragedy, perhaps music gives hope.”