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GETTING THE WORD OUT

Besieged Lebanese turn to blogging to express anger and fear over war

BEIRUT -- Like many of her compatriots, artist Zena el-Khalil has turned to blogging on the Internet to express her longings and fears amid the fighting in Lebanon.

Writing from Beirut, the 30-year-old tells of wanting to have children and worries about Israeli air raids on the capital.

``Word on the street is that Israel is threatening to hit Beirut now. I feel so helpless," she said in a recent entry in her online diary. ``I called my husband and told him to come home right away. If I die, I want to be in his arms."

Another blogger, 27-year-old Jamal Ghosn, bemoans the casualties among Lebanese children. ``Lebanese children don't hug teddy bears when they sleep, they sleep with Katyushas in their beds, in case you didn't know," he wrote.

Young Lebanese, feeling increasingly hemmed in by the siege of their country, are turning to the Internet to vent anger about the war and express longings intensified by the death and destruction.

But widespread electricity cuts caused by fuel shortages and Israel's bombardment of power stations have at times shut off even this outlet.

Operating his computer by battery late one night after the neighborhood generator went off, blogger Mazen Kerbaj, a 30-year-old musician, wrote: ``It's quite funny to write on a laptop connected to the world with a candle next to the keyboard to see the letters."

Lebanese bloggers burst onto the Internet in unprecedented numbers last year following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the subsequent ``Cedar Revolution" -- the mass anti-Syria demonstrations that preceded the Damascus regime's withdrawal of its troops from Lebanon after an 18-year presence.

The bloggers' enthusiasm had subsided as politicians became mired in squabbles over Syria and other issues. But the Web musings have surged again since Israel launched its offensive .

Besides blogging, Lebanese people at home and abroad are using e-mails, text messages, and other communications to share their feelings and ideas for ending the conflict.

``I still haven't cried, I feel I am not entitled to," blogger Muzna al-Masri wrote of her tour of southern Lebanon. ``If I were to cry, what would I leave to the people that have lost loved ones and houses full of memories?"

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