Lebanon Dancing to the Beat of Different Drums

We're in Beirut waiting to meet Haifa, the biggest singing star of the Arab world. While waiting for her busy schedule to free up, we have been filming in the streets of this glamorous but nervous city.

In the center of the downtown district, an area once bustling with shoppers and well-heeled tourists, there is today only the presence of security, concrete roadblocks, armored vehicles and soldiers. All are designed to protect the Parliament of this troubled country.

In the nearby Phoenicia Hotel, dozens of parliamentarians from the fragile ruling coalition are now living full time behind a security cordon.

Everyone lives in fear of the next car bomb.

Lebanon is locked in a bitter political fight between the U.S.-backed government of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and the so-called opposition of Hezbollah and its allies. In simple terms, the two sides are defined by their opposition to, or support of, Syria's influence in Lebanese politics.

Recent years have seen car bombings and assassinations, mainly targeting supporters of the government. There is fear such attacks are sponsored by Syria, but there is little proof of a link to the Syrian government.

The current impasse concerns the election of a new president.

Under Lebanon's complex system, the president must be Christian. The current incumbent, Emile Lahoud, is widely seen as a stooge of the Syrian regime.

Finding a compromise candidate acceptable to all is proving difficult, and in the meantime the mysterious and deadly bombings continue.

But on the streets of Beirut Wednesday night we found that though not quite full, the bars and cafes were still pulsating with life and a certain fatalistic defiance of what may lie ahead. In an old-fashioned cafe in Ashrafieh district, we stumbled across traditional Lebanese folk singers, an Oud player and his drummer sitting on a small stage in front of a few dozen patrons.

Old songs from a former age, familiar standards to both young and old — very different from the high-tech pop songs of Haifa and her new generation of singers, but here we found a surprising devotion to the songs of Lebanon's history.

It was almost as if people had come to be reassured in a time of such uncertainty.

After the set, Angela Abi Haider, the manager and co-owner of the cafe, spoke of her love for the old music of her country, but also of her respect and admiration for Haifa and her new music.

"She performs very well. I like her," said Abi Haider. "She has her own beauty. She has her own personality and she knows what she wants."

"The old music has its own touch, its own color. Haifa has her own world, but I like her and I'm proud. Both are Lebanese."

In theses difficult days in Lebanon, people are finding solace and strength in music, and just as importantly, in their love for their country.

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