Thursday, January 29, 2015

Demis Roussos, hostage in Beirut?

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Greek singer, Demis Roussos passed away last weekend. He was a much-loved figure in Lebanon. So loved he was taken hostage!

After serenading many couples since the seventies, his songs are still played on local radios. Most of you danced cheek to cheek with your beloved on one of his ballads, especially his french hit, the all times wedding classic: “Quand je t’aime” –even if some will forcefully deny it!

But did you know that he was taken hostage and held in Beirut for five days during the civil war?

According to french website Rue 89, Demis Roussos was on the TWA flight 847 from Athens to Rome that was hijacked in June 1985, then redirected to war-torn Beirut.

Along with 31 other passengers, he was held hostage in Beirut’ suburbs by an extremist group the website claims was an offspring of the newly created Hezbollah.

He celebrated his 39th birthday in captivity and was given a birthday cake and offered a guitar by his captors. This was a traumatic experience for the singer, says Rue 89.

But the New York Times tells a different story.

Quoting a statement Roussos made to Reuters after his release, the NYT writes that the spent "good moments" during his captivity. The former Aphrodite's Child vocalist allegedly added: "These people, these nice people. They were so nice to me I cannot tell you (...) Yes, they asked me to sing and I don't see why I shouldn't have sung."

It seems that later in his life, Demis Roussos denied saying that.

The irony of it all is that, thirty years after the facts, the lebanese parties mentioned in Rue 89 article are today very much in charge of Lebanon’s destiny.

Forever and ever?

© Claude El Khal, 2015