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Showing posts from December, 2012

Another May 7, 2008 in Lebanon?

The Syrian conflict seems to be nearing a clear end- the collapse of the Assad regime. In Lebanon there is talk that the Hizbullah is looking to reach some compromises with the March 14 coalition. These arrangements are sought to lessen the repercussions of the Syrian developments on the political situation in Lebanon.

There is no doubt that the demise of the Assad regime is the biggest challenge faced by the Hizbullah ever- a bigger challenge than it's war with Amal in the 1980s, any of the Israeli wars fought, or the classification of the group as a terrorist organization.

There is talk that the Hizbullah, in order to force concessions, will resort to another May 7, 2008- type operation. This is the operation were Hizbullah and its supporters used force, mainly against the Sunni-led Future Movement and its supporters, in order to force concessions from the March 14th Movement. The use of force worked- it resulted in the Doha Agreement with a veto power for Hizbullah and its less…

Walbridge's Dearborn book

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Without Forgetting the Imam: Lebanese Shi'is in an American Community (1997) by Linda Walbridge is an excellent book on the Shia of Dearborn. One hopes that those who want to learn about that community do read her book- particularly federal law enforcement who have a special interest in that area of the world. The insights and the depth of knowledge she has are remarkable. She was able to attain them because she was trusted by the community who opened their homes to her.

One hopes that those interested in that community read Walbridge and not the drivel that is written about the community by Zionist Christians and Zionist Jews who see attacking and defaming that community as somehow helping Israel. In the alternative they see the defaming and demonizing as payback for the Shia Lebanese group Hizbullah fighting Israel and succeeding in removing it from the South of Lebanon.

 However, there are two errors in the book I want to mention. First- On page 35 she writes that "Minor…

Defendant Michel Samaha and the dominant (anti -) Sunni Muslim narrative

Michel Samaha is a high profile defendant charged with serious crimes in Lebanon. He is charged with being a part of an armed criminal syndicate that planned bombings with the intention of fomenting sectarian strife in Lebanon.

 The leaked information from the secretly taped conversations reveal that he was part of a plot to assassinate the Maronite patriarch during his visit to the North- an area of Lebanon that is majority Sunni Lebanese- many of whom are struggling to survive in an area of the country that lacks the infrastructure and opportunities that other parts of the country have. The North has never received the attention it deserved because it did not border Israel, the world did not care for it- and it did not have advocates and supporters to lobby for its interests. It now gets a lot of negative attention- hardly any positive attention- even though the Prime Minister is from that part of the country. The attention the North gets now is undesirable, defamatory and contriv…

Syrian Christians and the Assad Regime

I just finished reading Neil Mcfarquhar’s small and highly readable book, The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah wishes you a happy birthday. Neil is the former New York Times reporter in the Middle East. I met him and had dinner with him one time when he was writing a story on American Muslim charities. I was at the Middle East Studies Association meeting in Denver last month. I was talking to a colleague when the topic of Syria came up. My colleague said things that almost everyone else that I talked to in the US usually says when the topic of Syria comes up- Syrian Christians: “Assad is good to the Christians” and “what would happen to the Christians if Assad is removed.” This common reaction is testament to the very effective propaganda work of the Assad regime and its supporters. Who cares about the tens of thousands of people killed and the excessive use of force against the civilian population? Syria is not a country with a bloody history of sectarian relations. The…

Al Assir: A Muslim Brother or a Salafist?

The media insist on describing the Shaykh of Masjid Bilal Bin Rabah Ahmad Al-Assir as a Salafist. Al Assir looks like a Salafist with his long beard and closely trimmed moustache. But al Assir himself has refused to self- identify as a Salafist. His background is involvement with the Al Jamaa al Islamiyya of Lebanon- the Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood. He said he left the Jamaa because he wanted to work independently- which he did, keeping a low profile for a number of years. In a number of interviews he gave to the Lebanese and international media Al Assir denied affiliation with any group-Islamist or secular. His field of work was Da'awa- the call on the non observant Muslims to return to being practicing Muslims. It was the Syrian Revolution, Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian conflict and Hezbollah’s practices in Lebanon that turned him to speaking out on political issues- according to him.His perception that there is a lack of balance in Lebanon- that there is hegemony of…

Shaykh Al Assir: The consociational salafist

A Marginal Phenomenon?

In a country of 4 million people the Al Assir Youtube channel has 959,205 views and his Masjidbilalbinrabah channel has 299, 390 views. Not a marginal phenomenon even though his detractors and political opponents within his faith group would like to paint him as such. Why is his message being heard? Because his message is not a revolutionary one. He is a status quo player. How? 

                                                Good Sunni/Bad Sunni Dichotomy

The dominant theme in the media reporting on the man is that he is a "radical" Sunni- the un- Mustaqbal/Future Movement if you will. That there you have the good Sunnis- the modern Sunnis with the shaved beards or the trimmed goatees represented by Saad Hariri and then you have the scary bunch- the long beards- Shaykh al-Assir and his supporters who are lumped together with the Who's Who of a long list of scary Sunni Islamists. But the record do…