The Shadi Mawlawi Lesson for Lebanon

For all matters and purposes, Mawlawi is irrelevant. In a few weeks, he will only be remembered as the man who was important some time ago. But for his followers, Mawlawi represented a cause, a reason to fight and stand up to a state they hardly consider their own.

Arrested last week, the salafists got into fights that led to destruction and chaos amounting to millions of dollars. Mawlawi got bailed out yesterday for $300. His release was celebrated in the streets of Tripoli: the return of the savior, the hero, the “messiah” of the salafists, the one who represents their struggle.

Mawlawi’s release has showed the salafists what they can do. It showed everyone what can be done to get what you want. Induce chaos. Start havoc. Block the streets. Burn tires. Kill people. Bomb buildings.

The government? It will cave.

The army? Too weak to retaliate.

The ISF? Too involved to be relevant.

Political leaders? Their influence is waning.

Shadi Mawlawi’s release has showed an inherent flaw in the design of Lebanon. There is no state. This is a farm of “people” grouped together. The toughest “person” who can get the others to cower the most for a specific period of time rules.

One of the many diseases in Lebanon is the “Shadi Mawlawi” disease. It exists in many sects and political parties: people who rise from zero to hero in the matter of seconds, who manage to rally the masses behind a “cause,” who get the masses to die for that “cause” and who end up burning the country for a matter that is irrelevant.

There are too many Mawlawis  in Lebanon to count, too many people above any consideration, above any law, above any form of government, above any form of civility. Shadi Mawlawi, Samir el Kentar, the airport officer who led to the May 2008 events, the Islamists of Nahr el Bered…

And then there are those who are taken by the Mawlawis of Lebanon and who believe burning tires is the best solution to get your voice across. The sad thing is they are getting results. It is here that I reiterate the question I asked yesterday: in a country of savagery, is civility the best option for  self-preservation?

“Hay balad? hay mesh balad… hay shellet 3alam. Majmou3in? La2. Madroubin? La2. Ma2soumin? La2. Matrou7in? La2. Oum fout nam w sir 7lam enno baladna saret balad.” – Ziad el Rahbani.