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Nabih Berri and the Owl of Revenge! - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Nabih Berri, the Speaker of Lebanese Parliament and the Shia Amal movement as well as other followers of Imam Musa al Sadr, were opposed to the idea of Lebanon being represented at the upcoming Arab Summit to be held in Libya under Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

It is said that following the uproar, Lebanon, egged on by Amal and its allies, decided to lower its level of diplomatic representation. There are claims that the Lebanese ambassador to Egypt will represent Lebanon at the Arab Summit as a form of protest against Colonel Gaddafi and Libya. Supporters of Imam Musa al Sadr have long accused Tripoli of being responsible for the disappearance of Lebanese Shia Imam Musa al Sadr in Tripoli along with his two companions Sheikh Muhammad Yacoub and journalist Abbas Badreddine in August 1978.

Since then, Colonel Gaddafi has consistently denied responsibility for the fate of Musa al Sadr and his two companions, whereas supporters of Muqtada al Sadr and the Shia Amal movement headed by Nabih Berri continue to accuse Libya of killing Imam Musa and his companions.

The story of Imam Musa al Sadr has transformed into a permanent Lebanese Shia “Holocaust” and another Karbala especially for Nabih Berri’s group.

It goes without saying that what happened to Imam Musa al Sadr and his two companions is a heinous crime and the perpetrators of such an atrocity should be exposed and what happened to this political and religious leader should be revealed, whether he met his end in Libya or elsewhere. I have no objection to Nabih Berri’s insistence and that of the Lebanese Shia who are part of religious and semi-religious parties to keep the case of Musa al Sadr alive. The truth is never lost because of the passing of time, or at least it never should be.

Back in the old days, the Arabs used to believe that the spirit of a murdered man continues to wail and weep until his death is avenged. They believed that a bird that they called “al Sada” [or the death-owl] would continue to hoot over the grave of a slain man whose death had not been avenged. The bird would continue to hoot endlessly until the slain man’s death was avenged.

The death-owl of al Sadr cries for revenge in the form of Nabih Berri’s fiery statements and repeated protests against Lebanon’s expected attendance at the forthcoming Arab summit to be held in Sirte. Even long before the summit, the owl of al Sadr has been hooting for revenge. However, we are still clueless as to when this will happen.

However, are there not any other death-owls hooting for revenge in Lebanon, whether they are owls in the pre-Islamic mythical sense or in the form of prominent Lebanese political figures whose tragic deaths are yet to be avenged? Rafik al Hariri and Kamal Jumblatt are just two prominent examples. Unfortunately, the death-owl of Kamal Jumblatt, represented in his son and current Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, has stopped hooting. Al Hariri’s death-owl of revenge is on the same track.

The only death-owl that continues to hoot, and has been doing so for three continuous decades is that of Imam Musa al Sadr. Perhaps the idea of revenge and the sanctity of blood is far more intense in the culture of al Sadr’s followers than it is in the culture of al Hariri’s and Jumblatt’s supporters. Nevertheless, a tragedy is still a tragedy and the balances of power control everything, even the sentiments of death and the gruesomeness of the crime.

There is even envy in death.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

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