It is clear that Hezbollah is confronting challenges presented in its new task of fighting in Syria. The task goes unannounced in the party's rhetoric. However the silence surrounding it does not exempt the party's fighters from its repercussions. They are the silent funerals of young men from southern and Beqaa towns. The funeral procession passes through these towns quietly and are only attended by some family members and friends.
Hezbollah does not seem to have succeeded in marketing the idea that it is participating in Syria's fighting for the sake of defending religious sites. This formula narrows Hezbollah's margin of movement in Lebanon. It also makes it a guardian of religious sites after it expanded and became an authority that derives its power from what is bigger than its ritual community. Hezbollah's authority in Lebanon has a base where alliances with other sects (the Aounis) mix with the illusions of resistance. It also mixes with a base of customers, like businessmen.
Hezbollah has certainly felt that. Silent funerals indicate the party's incapability to publicize their fight. The absence of a story and where the fighters were “martyred" confirm this. The silence surrounding the story of participation in Syria trespasses Hezbollah towards wider political and media circles. Hezbollah in Lebanon controls the biggest number of media outlets, whether written or audio or visual ones. All of the latter has not participated in the funeral processions. Social media is the only means informing the Lebanese of the events in these southern and Beqaa towns. And people of these towns circulate very brief stories mixed with confusion and hesitation in estimating the cost and the price.
Publicizing their fight
Hezbollah does not seem to have succeeded in marketing the idea that it is participating in Syria's fighting for the sake of defending religious sites.Hazem al-Amin
The concept of "protecting shrines" would not have appealed to the sentiment of Lebanese Shiite twenty years ago. The Lebanese Shiite have lived far from these shrines. They only visited them on a yearly basis for few days. This is what allowed differences between generations. And this is what caused big differences in Lebanese Shiism and a dissociation of the practiced rituals in Najaf and Qom from the collective sectarian sentiment. Al-Ghadeer Day was not a Lebanese holiday, and the Shiite here used to commemorate Ashura during the first ten days of Muharram and they did not extend the commemoration until the 40th day of Imam Hussein's death. Biographies as well were carefully selected to be read during the commemoration.
In the last two decades, Hezbollah worked to transfer other forms of rituals to the Lebanese Shiite. The Iranian Cultural Chancellery in Beirut and in Damascus also worked to spread a Shiism of many rituals and to double the latter's connection with people's lives and practices. I attribute this to many of the patriarchs' tombs. These were never Shiites' shrines. Shiite and not Lebanese names were used for medical and scientific edifices. Travel and commerce agencies were established to serve the new task. Terms were introduced and the southerner began addressing the other using the term "Hajj." The term may have developed later to become "Hajji." Fashion that our mothers did not abide by when they visited Sayyida Zainab or Najaf was also introduced.