Sectarian tensions in Lebanon are not a myth

In the afternoon of August 1, just days before the one-year memorial of the Beirut explosion, clashes erupted on the South Highway, around a district of Khalde, a mixed-use neighborhood. by Lebanese belonging to different sects. The background to the clashes may seem surprising to many, but it is something Lebanon is familiar with, as it was sparked by personal revenge.

Hours before the clashes, a local Hezbollah official Ali Shebli was shot dead in a wedding ceremony in the region, his killer being none other than the brother of young Hassan Ghosn who was shot dead at the age of 14 years old by a sniper a year before. Ali Shebli was accused of giving the order to shoot Hassan Ghosn that day in August 2020, with some confirming he was the shooter himself.

Shortly after the murder, the perpetrator was arrested and Shebli’s funeral was organized. Inside the streets of the city, a large painting of Hassan Ghosn has been drawn up. Moments after the funeral convoy passed, the funeral procession turned into a sectarian confrontation between supporters of Hezbollah and members of the Sunni Arab clan of Khalde.

Taking matters in hand in Lebanon is caused by the current lack of security in the country

It is yet to be confirmed why these clashes erupted and lasted for hours, but videos on social media showed Hezbollah supporters stopping their convoy in front of the Hassan poster and tearing it apart. An instant after that, bullets can be heard and the funeral has turned into a pitched battle.

Days after the Khalde clashes, rockets were fired at the southern Lebanese borders from the town of Shwaya in Hasbaya district, southern Lebanon – Hezbollah claimed responsibility. Meanwhile, villagers from Shwaya intercepted a truck carrying a projectile launch pad. The village is dominated by the Druze, so this act created a new wave of sectarian tensions between Druze and Shiites, as Shiite supporters of Hezbollah tried to drive out Druze fruit sellers from several places on the southern highway, once again turning this incident into a sectarian confrontation.

Taking matters into their own hands in Lebanon is caused by the lack of security currently present in the country, when a killer roams freely for a year without facing any responsibility, in a country where the term of impunity has become so popular, it is only a matter of time before people, whether clans or not, start to take matters into their own hands and take revenge.

The same sectarian narrative that the majority of ruling parties in Lebanon have fed and nourished for the past decade

When an armed party, which no longer invests in local politics but carries out wars in Lebanon and the region, decides to target the occupied lands with missiles, thus leading the country to a possible confrontation with Israel, it is not only a matter of time before the villagers try to prevent party members from firing more rockets, especially when the hands of the Lebanese army are tied.

Many Lebanese districts and areas are indirectly investing in self-protection. In some villages and towns, local men take turns to “watch” their respective areas against theft and theft, this is the new norm in Lebanon. One of the many reasons the country is collapsing is its lack of state-run security, and many political parties are winners in this equation, especially if people are reminded that in the end, political affiliation would “protect them from the other” – it’s the same sectarian narrative that the majority of ruling parties in Lebanon have been feeding and feeding on for a decade.

When scared, people will end up choosing safety no matter where the sentiment is generated, and this is what makes sectarian tension in Lebanon so “remarkable”: despite people’s awareness of how much. this has damaged the country over the years, civil war, endless short-term clashes between different sects and governments that have managed to push Lebanon deeper into a never-ending economic crisis, despite the decentralized protests of 2019, and the efforts from civil society to form new movements and emerging political parties, sectarian tension is still in the headlines in Lebanon.

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