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Hitchens Beaten Up In Beirut

by David Gura
Feb 19, 2009

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David Gura

Love him or hate him, Christopher Hitchens is one of the most-interesting, most-prolific journalists working today. He writes reviews for The Atlantic. He writes a column for Vanity Fair. And he sits on more editorial boards than I can count.

One week, a few months back, I felt like I couldn't go through a newspaper or magazine without spotting his byline. During the election, he was on Hardball every other night. (In full disclosure, we've had him on TOTN a few times.)

Earlier today, I saw this article on The Guardian's website. On a trip to Beirut, Hitchens "found himself at the wrong end of a bruising encounter that has left him walking with a limp and nursing cuts and bruises."

Hitchens had been drinking on Beirut's main boulevard, Hamra Street, on Saturday afternoon with two other western journalists after attending a rally to commemorate the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri. They spotted a poster for the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a far-right group whose logo bears an uncanny resemblance to the Nazi swastika, and Hitchens decided to act.

He got up, walked over to the poster, took out a marker, and began to deface it.

Hitchens' political statement was witnessed by a group of SSNP activists, who have a strong presence in Beirut. "With amazing speed, in broad daylight on this fashionable street, these guys appeared from nowhere, grabbed me by the collar and said: 'You're coming with us'. I said: 'No I'm not'. They kept on coming. About six or seven at first with more on the way," he said.

He was beaten and bloodied, chased through downtown Beirut. It's a wild story, to say the least. And because it happened to Hitchens, I can only assume he'll write about the experience somewhere soon.

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