Monday, December 04, 2006

Lebanon: Sectarianism all the way: Episode II

Today is the fourth day of the "opposition" hitting the barricades in order to crush the ruling parties. Problem is from 1990 – 2005 they all were, excluding for Aoun, were part of the government/parliament and they all failed towards the Proletariat in Lebanon. This messed up failure ended up the singing duo camps to accuse each other with allegiance with the other's foreign sponsor. Coming back to Aoun, I already previously stated that he is part of the game, and he is no different than the others in this sectarian whirlpool.

Even though both camps claim that this political clash is political par excellence, what is happening on the ground reflects otherwise.

The Marathon

For starters, the Marathon, whose cash flow goes for charities or Cancer research (depending on the sponsorship party) is supposed to be secular in nature. The participants entered the tournament reflecting the colors of their parties. The Free Patriotic Movement were wearing Orange while the Future Movement were dressed up in blue. Moreover, my sources told me that the different parties participating in the Marathon were running together in groups, rather competing for such a unique event which took place despite the political turmoil. This confirms that the reactionary different parties were participating in the Marathon to promote their parties, and the fact that their parties are participating in such events to simply reflect "their parties' interest" in helping others.

Historically, each sports club has its historical sectarian label in Lebanon. The Sagesse team used to be supported by the Christian Parties Lebanese Forces (or what is equivalent) and Free Patriotic Movement during the Syrian Mandate. When Aoun returned to Lebanon, the Free Patriotic Movement supports Champville (which is also another Christian Club). The Sunnis (and also the Shiites during the Syrian Mandate) supported The Sporting Club. When Sagesse and Sporting Club met, religious logos were placed on the cars. This is but one example of Sectarianism in Sports but will tackle the topic some time since I am focusing on the present.

Who is More Christian?

There is a major competition between both reactionary camps to claim "the genuine Christianity award" on who dominates the Christian street. This boils down between (ironically the same two figures who bashed each other in 1989 with only the Proletariat being massacred) Aoun and Jaajaa.

Following the Sectarian Maneuver of the 14th of March to Archbishop Sfeir (see previous post) and Aoun's insistence to dominate the Christian Majority, now the Christian parties in both camps are competing via the Church and prayer ceremonies to prove to the other they are more Christian.

Two competing prayer ceremonies took place, which included allied non-Christian parties to express support for their allies. From One side, the 14th of March figureheads for a second time welcomed a Maronite Christian Priest to do a prayer on the soul of the assassinated Pierre Gemayel. By the end of it, the figureheads (and who did the statements non-Christians but using the event to push their ideas) where the Sunni backed PM Seniora expressing that the Parliament gives him his strength so does the majority of the Lebanese while the Durzi Leader Walid Junblatt argued that it is the first time he hears "minorities" have thousands of missiles.
From the other camp, the Free Patriotic Movement along with their new allies (ex-archenemies) the Marada (ex-President Suleiman Frangieh's Party who played a major role in triggering the Civil War) held their own prayer ceremonies in St. Georges' Church in Down Town. It had the presence of non-Christian allies who were the supporters primarily of AMAL and Hezbollah. The crowd was overwhelmed with the majority of FPM with a few Marada. The Marada to be noted is also another Christian Maronite party that had massive political strength in the early 1970s. Currently, the Marada are led by Suleiman Frangieh Jr (Grandson of the ex-President). Hence, I would find really silly both sides argue they are not sectarian,

To continue, the ever-vulgar ex-Minister of Interior Sulieman Frangieh gave one a hell of a speech about who is a Christian. While he was attacking the other side as having people dirty with blood, he forgot to mention how he and his party's entire history is loaded with blood as well. He also attached the Arch-Bishop Sfeir by saying: " We love them the same way as he love us." He also gives a nice speech on how Christians are tolerant and forgiving, but seems insistent to forget about his own zero-tolerance towards opposing parties. He, like the rest of the 8th of March camp, attacked Seniora and termed "the Christians of that camp" want to bury the Christians of Lebanon in the laps of Israel (equivalent to Joyce Gemayel's speech but rather a bit more vulgar as Mr. Frangieh got his reputation to be).

Sectarian Clashes Through Out Lebanon

Sunni Supporters of Seniora and Harriri Jr. made rallies in major parts in Tripoli, and Western Beqa'a where they have strongholds while the Lebanese Forces joined in to express anger to Frangieh's logo. I want to make it clear, the majority supporters of the Lebanese Forces have been the extreme fanatics of the Maronite parties. The supporters would in defecto refute any Christian leader that is not anti-Syrian.

Clashes, as I mentioned in an earlier article, are about to take place when both camps hit the streets. In any case, the first person to die is from the 8th of March Camp when clashes between both reactionary camps took place in Sorsoq area, and not to forget eleven severely wounded in a Sunni-Shiite clash.

This clash created a direct domino effect through out the capital of Beirut. Next to my house I heard gunshots in Ras Beirut but didn't figure out from where it came from. Actually, when I was walking the streets, the Hamra street was overcharged with hatred between the two camps. People who do not know the others would walk in groups giving each other the 'look' and wonder if (as a famous Civil War logo would say): "Are You From our side or theirs?" Newspapers also reported there were clashes between the Sunni and Shiite areas in Burj Abi Haydar and Barbour areas within Beirut.

Actually, by now, I know people are dividing their acquaintances according to their camp allegiance. Till now, I over-heard over 45 cases of relatives and best friends not talking to each other due to politics while the neutrals are denounced by both Camps as traitors.

Foreign Intervention Accelerates Sectarianism

The dictatorial Arab regimes, such as Egypt, the Gulf nations, Jordan, and others have been supporting the Seniora government to bring forth Lebanon in the Regional Sunno-Shiite Clash. Iran stated that the Seniora Government should enter a "National Unity Government" which represented the Shiite street symbolized by AMAL and Hezbollah. To encourage the great divide, Israel, the United States, and Britain expressed solitude to Seniora Government while Israel expressed fear that whatever happening in Lebanon would reflect badly in Israel (ie pitching in to spread Chaos).

From Sectarianism to Racism

Due to the entrance of a Syrian bus and Palestinian participants among the 8th of March (but in a non-considerable amount), racism from one camp in Lebanon (14th of March) has been directed towards the Syrian Proletariat, rather be aware there is no difference in Nationalities and the Proletariat should be united despite all nationalities against their oppressors. Historically, this racism was present in the Free Patriotic Movement and Lebanese Forces (still does actually), while the Syrian TV remained broadcasting what has been happening in Down Town to also push the great divide on a larger scale, specially President el Assad promised that he would see the 14th of March government collapsing.

From the other side, 8th and 14th of March racism is escalating to new clearer framework. For starters the accusations are viewed by each other exactly what the accuser accuses the accused. In this sense, 14th of March supporters regard 8th of March as Iranian – Syrian puppies who want to integrate Lebanon into the arms of Damascus while versa the supporters of 8th of March regard the 14th of March crowd as Zionist-US traitors who want to serve the West. Such claims are furthering wider the gap between both camps.

One last note

Now Amin Gemayel visited Hassan Nasrallah yesterday in the evening, but without any ground conclusions. The United States are in an awkward position since Hezobllah are proving themselves democratic inside Lebanon rather Qa'eda style terrorists while their supporters and Christians are dancing to same tunes.

3 comments:

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