Showing posts from November, 2012

The media and al Assir: The Ashoura or the Hezbollah banners?

The media reporting on the Lebanese Shaykh Al Assir phenomenon is feeding directly into the Sunni-Shia tensions in Lebanon.

 One error of reporting is the statement repeated by journalists that the Shaykh wanted to remove the Ashoura banners. Ashoura is the most important event in Shia history. The reality is Al-Assir wanted to remove the banners and pictures of Hezbollah and its leaders. He considered the prominent displays of Hezbollah banners offensive to the sensibilities of the people of Sidon since Hezbollah, according to Al Assir, is supporting and fighting alongside the Assad regime. Hezbollah is a political group, the Shias are a Lebanese sect.

Removing Ashoura banners is an issue for almost all Lebanese Shias- removing Hezbollah banners is a confrontation with a specific political group and not a whole faith group. There is a big difference between the two.

Sunnis and Shias: The manufacture of difference

There are real differences that cause tension between Shias and Sunnis. And then there are imagined differences. Imagined differences are worse than real differences since its heard to bridge the gulf that the imagination creates. Some of the writers on Sunnis and Shia have contributed to misunderstandings and tensions by writing without authority. An example is Judith Palmer Harik’s book, Hezbollah: The changing face of terrorism (2004). Harik has a whole paragraph on the succession of the prophet controversy. The paragraph does not even have one citation. Then she writes, without citation: “When one of these opponents, Muawiyah, assassinated Ali in 661, a split occurred between his partisans and the rest of the community.” Caliph Ali was assassinated by a Kharijite. In this book Harik managed to manufacture another ground for tension between Sunnis and Shias

Understanding the Shaykh Ahmad Al Assir phenomenon- Grievance-based versus doctrine based analysis of Lebanese Sunni-Shia relations

The obvious reality for all to see is that there are great sectarian tensions in Lebanon and in the other Arab countries as well. These tensions are getting worse. The assassination of the intelligence chief Wesam al-Hassan, who is a Sunni Muslim and a supporter of the Sunni-led Future Movement, has aggravated these tensions further. This phenomenon has led to the laudable calls from different quarters for Muslim unity and rising above divisions. But what is behind these tensions? Is it the historical split in Islam that led to the birth of Shia and Sunni Islam? Is it the fault of the so-called “Salafists/Takfiris” who “hate” the Shia and want to “slaughter all of them as infidels”?

 A man who has spoken frequently, openly, and controversially about Sunni-Shia tensions and issues is the Sunni Lebanese Imam of the Masjid Bilal Bin Rabah in Abra, Sidon, Lebanon, Ahmad Al- Aseer. Recently he was interviewed by MTV Lebanon focusing on his personal and family life. He has become of interes…

The Charlotte Hezbollah cell and the RICO prosecution: Revisiting the Mohammed Hammoud case

The Charlotte Hezbollah cell and the RICO prosecution Revisiting the Mohammed Hammoud case From 150 years to 30 years for cigarette smuggling

                                     From the Excessive 150 years to the Excessive 30 years

 In January 2011 Mohammed Hammond was resentenced by a federal judge to a 30 year imprisonment. The original sentence handed down by a federal judge in 2003 was 150 years. Hammoud is held in Texas set to be released on 10/14/2026. Mohammed Hammoud and 24 other people were arrested under the RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) statute in a cigarette smuggling case between North Carolina and Michigan. That was the first criminal “material support” case to go to trial. Mugniyah’s “best and the brightest”?

                                         Lightening Out of Lebanon

In Lightening Out of Lebanon: Hezbollah Terrorists on American Soil, Tom Diaz and Barbara Newman, write about Hezbollah’s operations in the US and discuss at length the …