It's been a year now, since Lebanon has brandished headline news on American newspapers. Today, as I grabbed the "Express" (a shortened version of the Washington Post), I saw a picture of a protester with the Shahadatan banded around his forehead and the familiar Tabaris building burning behind him.
What happened yesterday was at best surreal. An event of hatred that was uncalled for. It's as if the hands of those who want to break Lebanon are itching for yet another plot to break us, break our will of living free, free of hate, fear, and death.
It's been a year, a year of tests, one after the other...but how much can the Lebanese take. The anger I saw on the faces of the Achrafieh residents made me realize that patience has limits...and I cannot blame them.
Whether in Tripoli or the South, there are hundreds of churches and mazars, never thrown stones at, never ravaged in such a way. Why this time around? Why are Tripolitans driving all the way to Beirut, to throw stones at cars in a Christian neighborhood?
If this angry mob should hurl stones at, it should be my house; because I'm a Muslim who disagrees with their way. This angry mob did not need to go as far as the Danish Consulate to burn it; they should have just turned to cars and houses in their neighborhood...because hundreds of Lebanese have let the issue of the cartoons go...there are more pertinent issues in life to worry about.
There are two news items that gave me the shivers yesterday: one when a number of Sunni clerics rushed to Bkirki to denounce such violence and then conducted their prayers from there...
The second was when Interior Minister Sabeh announced his resignation. He said that since he took over the Interior portfolio, the political and security command structure have not been centralized. And then he confessed that he would never have ordered the shooting at civilians and no one in his position would have taken such action.
I agree with him and applaud his bold move. If this angry, barbaric mob was shot at, then imagine what would have happened; perhaps then instead of stones being hurled at the Achrafieh residents, we would've witnessed a massacre. This is exactly what those "agents" who were causing this violence were waiting for...and we did not give it to them.
You know? At AUB, in a U.S. Politics course I took some six years ago, we learned that the Americans have come up with a term of what is "American" and what is "unAmerican". I believe that what happened yesterday is "unLebanese". The freedom to protest is "Lebanese" and I was proud to hear this right being reinforced on TV over and over. Clerics standing on police cars to stop the uncontrollable mob from causing harm to a church, is "Lebanese". But hurling stones at churches, burning buildings, and harrassing and injuring people of other sects is very "unLebanese".
Yesterday, an Achrafieh resident said that he would have joined the protesters in voicing their contempt against depictions of the Prophet, but he was shocked when he saw destroyed mazars. This is a red line, he said, and then he went to ask: Why?
And again on that same day, on the music talent show Super Star finale, we saw women brandishing the Saudi flag, which was used early that day to justify barbarism and violence, in support of a Saudi contestant.
This is Lebanon for you: we have confused the world. Are we westernized or not? Are we civilized or not? Should they support our cause for freedom or not? Well, today, many around the world are confused by the headlines coming from Beirut.
And those who hate to see Christians and Muslims united for a free Lebanon have shown their face and intentions yet again, and they are getting better at it.
"Nobody knows how many rebellions, besides political rebellions, ferment in the masses of life which people earth."