Celebrating death in Lebanon

Hazem al-Amin
Hazem al-Amin
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Lebanon's Tripoli was the site of a hideous scene on the night an explosion blasted through a residential area in Beirut's southern suburb. Citizens in Tripoli distributed candy and celebrated the death of other Lebanese people in an explosion that targeted their houses, their neighborhoods and their stores.

There's no need to complicate things, it’s simple. While it's true that not everyone in Tripoli celebrated the deaths in Beirut, the fact remains that some did. It's likely that the city will not punish but then, it’s also likely that they do not have the power to punish them. After all, these people are more miserable than the city itself and they are capable of bringing it closer to their hideous faces. A Twitter user said a man carried a sword in his hand while celebrating and that another cried in happiness. What is this level of inhumanity? Television stations aired footage of burnt bodies in cars and children stuck in buildings on fire. Didn't those celebrating stop to imagine their son or their brother could be one of those affected by the explosion? What can push someone to celebrate such a brutal scene?

Violence and acts of vengeance are present within a cultural structure that's difficult to overlook.

Hazem al-Amin

It's likely that the "war of instincts," currently raging among the Lebanese people, is more severe than that which reigned during the civil war. Back then, daily violence helped to vent peoples’ grudges. However, today those grudges are internalized. These reactions almost appear more hideous than murder itself.

It's no longer important to look for the reasons behind the grudge and to look for the lack of inhumane instincts among some people. Discussions are futile. We are now enduring the results. The civil war which "has not been" resumed yet, may turn out to be worse than war. When we fight, we do not celebrate death. But when we don't fight, we use an innocent’s demise as a reason for celebration.

Intermittent death has become an opportunity to criminalize those around us. It's not enough to name the criminal. Someone will tell you that you are gloating and that this is proof that you do not support Hezbollah. There's no space for this amongst all of this death and destruction.

If you distribute candy are you 100% with us or 100% against us?

A moral dilemma

To say that the Syrian opposition is morally responsible for the abduction of the nine Lebanese pilgrims in Syria's Aazaz is not enough of a statement according to some. How can you say this when you are in support of ousting the Syrian regime? If you support the toppling of the regime, then this logic would surely suggest that you support the kidnappers.

The explosion in Beirut's southern suburb brings a serious moral dilemma to the surface for Hezbollah's Lebanese rivals. The struggle with Hezbollah has now ended with the involvement of Takfiri groups who do not value innocent lives. It's not important to list the reasons that led to this. It's also not important to hold Hezbollah responsible for it or to say that these groups are a copy of the party. What matters is that Takfiris are in charge of the struggle and that the blood of innocents is being shed. Where do we stand? How can one maintain a position against Hezbollah and stand against the murderers of civilians in the southern suburb?

It's no longer enough to say that the huge dispute between us and Hezbollah does not mean that we do not intuitively stand by the victims in the southern suburb. We need to ask who we are, and who surrounds us.

It's likely that those involved with the bombing in the southern suburb are part of the same party that abducted Father Paolo in Syria, killed civil activists during the course of the Syrian revolution and imposed the implementation of Sharia and the establishment of borders on the citizens of the revolting Syrian cities. It's also likely that this party is also somehow linked to the kidnappers of the Lebanese pilgrims in Aazaz. Is it enough to say that Hezbollah's involvement in Syria's Qusayr and has paved the way for groups to carry out these acts of violence and terror? Is it enough to say that the brutality of the regime in Syria has encouraged equally violent opposition groups? These groups are not merely a reaction. They operate as per a comprehensive system of violence which works on destroying the values of the Syrian revolution at its beginning and which murders civilians in Beirut's southern suburbs and other areas.

Violence and acts of vengeance are present within a cultural structure that's difficult to overlook. These features are not a result of a reaction. Some resort to texts and experiences to justify them and others take their swords out to dance in celebration. Tripoli did not distribute candy the day of the explosion. Kids born into an unstable lifestyle caused by conflict and political strife in Tripoli distributed candy. These kids are permanently on the verge of a similar death. Today it has become necessary to review the situation. What do we do?

This article was first published in al-Hayat on August 20, 2013.


Hazem al-Amin is a Lebanese writer and journalist at al-Hayat. He was a field reporter for the newspaper, and covered wars in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq and Gaza. He specialized in reporting on Islamists in Yemen, Jordan, Iraq, Kurdistan and Pakistan, and on Muslim affairs in Europe. He has been described by regional media outlets as one of Lebanon's most intelligent observers of Arab and Lebanese politics.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.
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