It’s very easy for Lebanese to get carried away. They do it way too often and way too dramatically. On the other hand, it only lasts for about a brief period before they move on from that theatrical moment.
The latest Lebanese moment has been going on for more than a week now but it’s escalating. Some Lebanese have taken it to the next level by proclaiming that another civil war is upon us. Blame the short memory span for this – they seem to have forgotten worse has happened on May 7th, 2008 and we still got out of it. They seem to have forgotten a very similar thing took place on January 2011 when Hariri’s government was toppled. A reminder should be in order, just in case.
So today blaming the Sunnis for the situation in the country has become the way to go – how better are they than those who burned Beirut on May 7th, 2008? What’s the whole purpose behind burning tires and closing roads?
The answer is simple. Anger.
The Sunnis of Lebanon are angry. They are angry because:
- The prime minister who supposedly represents their sect doesn’t do so one bit.
- The political leader who realistically represents their sect is nowhere to be found. He’s possibly eating croissant in Paris, lecturing via twitter – and not doing a good job at that as well.
- How the person mentioned in 2 went out of power and the person mentioned in 1 got to power is due to a threat by their fellow Muslims, Hezbollah, who threatened to use weapons – and burn Beirut again – in case their demands aren’t met.
- Prominent Sunni figures get killed, the latest is Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Wahid in Akkar, and they can’t do anything but watch the news as a response.
- Their image, especially in Lebanon, has been distorted to showcase them all as a bunch of Salafists who want nothing but to establish an Islamic republic in Lebanon. The fact that Salafists are irrelevant politically in the Sunni community has escaped some people who just love to carry the idea around and shout it from any platform they can get.
- With every passing day, their position as one of the main sects in the country is being compromised. Think the Maronites in the 1970s. Wouldn’t you be worried?
As a reflex anger response to the killing of the Sheikh, the Sunnis have taken it to the streets. They are closing roads and burning tires, which is the maximum they can do. It still beats doing worse just because the government threatened to remove an officer from the airport. Whether you want to admit it or not, they don’t have the weapons arsenal that Hezbollah possesses. The amount of destruction they can do is far less reaching and disastrous. But who cares, right?
BeirutSpring has described how the protests are coming off to Lebanese people and he hit the nail on the head:
But their protests, even if cathartic, are creating three big headaches for their community:
- They are angering the rest of the Lebanese by inconveniencing them and reminding them of the war. Sunnis are coming across as irresponsible and dangerous.
- They are not achieving anything. Even if the point was to establish deterrence (to make others think twice before upsetting the Sunnis), it’s not working. It’s just a loud and costly tantrum.
- They are establishing a reputation that the Sunnis are an excitable bunch that can easily be provoked.
But here’s why the way the Lebanese population is responding cannot but be hypocritical at best.
- Why wasn’t the anger at what’s happening today also present back in May 2008? Because when some sects and parties burn down Beirut, it’s because they are fighting Israel, when others do so it’s because they are fighting Lebanese. You gotta love Lebanese logic.
- On the long run, they aren’t achieving anything because this type of action gets you nowhere. The Sunnis have done something very similar last January. Did that get them anywhere? No. In fact, I’ve heard many ridiculing their “day of anger.” The sentences I’ve heard? “They should come to us to teach them how to be angry.” I suppose you can tell who’s meant by “us.”
- In a country where a fragile peace is kept by miraculous measures, where the situation is like a yoyo rocking backwards and forwards between peace and no peace, I think the Sunnis have shown lots of restraint especially with everything they’ve been dealt. If they want to be portrayed as an excitable bunch, what does that say about those who get excited because of much less and react much much more than this?
Am I with what the Sunnis are doing? No. I’m against all forms of violence because they lead nowhere except springing more fear and hate. But is the panic about the situation justified? Definitely not. It has happened before in Lebanon and it will happen again as long as not everyone in the country is on equal footing. Is the judgement against those protesting justified? Perhaps so. After all, you can’t but look down on burning tires and blocking roads. But people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
Developing thick skin for all sects is needed. Some have it more than others. But in a country where the major player doesn’t have skin, how is skin thickening for everyone else remotely possible?