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Freedoms in Lebanon Becoming Narrower - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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I respect Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah and value his contribution and that of his party to the resistance, but I disagree with some of the roles and politics he and Hezbollah are adopting and practicing. But this does not mean that Sayyid Nasrallah is outside Lebanon’s known framework or the one we are currently seeing with the participation of all political figures and those that surround them.

Sayyid Nasrallah is a religious symbol and this is how his supporters view him. But, on the other hand, he is also a politician! This is how we see him. Those playing politics, through words and actions, can’t expect immunity! This is a rule. Of course, politics includes moral practices but they are more protocol than covenant, which is what Sayyid Nasrallah and his supporters are demanding.

These customs come with practice, the rejection of unapproved behavior and the banishment of inappropriate words and deeds. And herein lays the problem! How can we set those who have sanctity and immunity apart, while a never-ending stream of profanities and accusations continues to fly between Lebanon’s leaders and its symbols? How can the concept of respect be established in the midst of all these differences and as long as Lebanese leaders do not utter a word when the country’s leadership is vilified and described as slaves and traitors and their distorted pictures paraded around in way to symbolize disloyalty?

When everyone remains silent whenever leaders are insulted, whoever they may be, and when dialogue is transformed into treachery, murder and a smear campaign, the respect of leaders becomes illusory. The current reality of Lebanon, no matter how amiable we try to be, points towards a slippery slope.

The current situation in Lebanon resembles live televised coverage of the lowest rank and not that of national leaders and parliament. By that, I mean the insults and accusations that are being uttered in political gatherings which have become more like speeches! This is not freedom! Freedom is responsibility. The truth is the space for freedoms in Lebanon is narrowing, bearing in mind that democratic rules state that your freedom ends when you attack the freedom of others.

This is why I say that respecting leaders and symbols is necessary and desired. But respect doesn’t materialize from nowhere. Taking part or maintaining silence- there is no difference between the two- on attacks on others and demanding everyone else to respect a sole leader or a single symbol but not others.

First and foremost, those who take part in politics have to expect to suffer the consequences. It is impossible for the sheikh or the Sayyid to become involved in politics and remain above everyone else. We always hear that the ulema’s flesh is poisoned but when they enter politics, theirs become as fine and tasty as other politicians!

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed

Tariq Alhomayed is the former editor-in-chief of Asharq Al-Awsat. Mr. Alhomyed has been a guest analyst and commentator on numerous news and current affair programs, and during his distinguished career has held numerous positions at Asharq Al-Awsat, amongst other newspapers. Notably, he was the first journalist to interview Osama Bin Ladin's mother. Mr. Alhomayed holds a bachelor's degree in media studies from King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah. He is based in London.

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