Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Kandahar or the Southern Suburbs? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Future bloc MP Samir Jisr warned that there are some who seek to portray the Lebanese city of Tripoli as Kandahar, a stronghold of extremism in Afghanistan. He stressed that the Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah is preparing to nibble away at the northern Lebanese city.

The MPs comments emerged at the same time that the Mufti of the North [and Tripoli Sheikh Malek al Shaar] warned that the Sunni identity is endangered. This targeting of Tripoli is to strike the voting power of the north in preparation for upcoming parliamentary elections.

It must be said that Sunni extremism is no lesser an evil than Shia extremism; this is the plague of sectarianism that has afflicted our region and is fed and sponsored by Iranian policies in the entire region, not only in Lebanon. Time will prove that its first victim will be the Iranian regime itself.

But why the comparison to Kandahar and why warn that our cities, Tripoli in particular, are following suit? Have we forgotten about the southern suburbs, the stronghold of Iranian-affiliated Hezbollah, or “God’s narrow land” as described by Lebanese writer Fadi Tawfiq?

Extremism is an evil; there is no such thing as good or bad extremism. In the same way that there have been warnings against the spreading of the Kandahar model, there must also be severe warnings against the spreading of the southern suburbs model and its security zones in our countries.

The southern suburbs are an example of destruction to the Lebanese state, or to any state, and the region is evidence of the danger that the penetration of foreign money poses, especially “pure money” that create loyalties to something other than the homeland and create duties that differ to the duties of a citizen. Foreign funding is a sharp tool to divide the ranks of the nation and the citizens.

When a region within a state, like the southern suburbs, has its own communications network, an independent security regime linked to a foreign country and its own education system that differs to the rest of the country or that is contradictory to what the state legislates then this is destruction of the state as a whole and a more dangerous model than Kandahar.

When a region like Lebanon’s southern suburbs has its own understanding of religion and culture where it shuts down cinemas and opens the Imam Khomeini Cultural Centre (and let us bear in mind that we are talking about diverse Lebanon) then this is a great danger.

When freedoms are repressed and writers are intimidated and their homes are raided if they challenge the directives of Wilayet-e-Faqih, which is what happened after the 7 May coup and the invasion of Beirut, then the suburbs come to resemble Kandahar or even worse.

When groups are going around monitoring what is heretical and what is authentic, hang up signs in barbers that read ‘No to Shaving Beards’, shut down restaurants based on fatwas [religious rulings] issued from Tehran and hang up pictures of Khomeini and Khamenei and other Iranian symbols and exploit places of worship in order to strengthen the concept of Wilayet-e-Faqih, then the model of the southern suburbs becomes a dangerous one and a symbol of state destruction that poses no less of a risk than Kandahar.

Isn’t it time Hezbollah and the Iranian propaganda machine behind it and others stopped portraying Tripoli as Kandahar since what is happening in Tripoli is far worse and more dangerous for the Lebanese state and the Arab nation than what is taking place in Kandahar?