Ahmad El Asir embodies everything I am against: radicalism, oppression of women and intolerance among other things religious bigotry begets. He comes in line with the increasing pace of radical Islamism in Lebanon, that I am finding more and more alarming with every liquor store bombing and forced closure.
Perhaps that is why many were surprised when I posted a status condemning the overzealous Keserwan residents that blocked Asir and his 200 supporters headed to Farya’s slopes. It should tickle my fancy after all, that someone I utterly despise be not granted passage to a Christian area. It didn’t, and it shouldn’t tickle yours.
1- Assirism in Kfardebian
Assir and his violent rhetoric that appeals to some disgruntled radical Sunni groups cuts roads. He blocked Saida’s main avenue for weeks, and we all criticized it for him. It was such an extremist position that not even the Lebanese army or Hezbollah dared remove him and reopen the roads. (We’ll get back to this ineptitude of our army in a little bit)
So, the protestors that blocked the streets in front of Assir, are guilty of the exact same crime he is: blocking roads in front of other Lebanese people. And even though some, rather naive comments, were “he doesn’t let us go to Saida and drink alcohol, why should we let him and 500 partisans come to Faraya?” or variations of that. My answer is, because you are better than that, or think you are at least.
Today, I shook my head in extreme disappointment that a bunch of overzealous citizens and MPs, namely Farid Haykal El Khazen, made fools of themselves and the rest of us who oppose Assir and everything he stands for.
2- Dick Measuring
When residents insisted Assir not pass, Assir insisted he does. In keeping in line with his hotheaded and stubborn and provocative ideals, he refused to take other routes when he knew one particular one was closed. If it really was for fun, why waste your time and the time of your followers by making a scene? Take the other road and go have fun on your day off on the slopes.
So, all in all, it was a game of machoism where no one backs down or finds a compromise, of which both sides are guilty, but the Kfardebian one more so, since they decided to block Assir’s entry in the first place, contrary to customs of hospitality and tolerance Lebanese, and especially Faraya residents, are known for (or used to be at least).
3- Biased and Heavy-handed Response from LAF
While Assir built up a tent city in the middle of the road, rode his bike and did other hilarious things inappropriate for a man that splits his supporters by sex, not one single effort was made to remove him by the Lebanese Armed Forces. But, when it was a few Kfardebian residents, the LAF brawled with and forcibly removed the protestors. Now, I’m not inciting hatred or suspicion, but come on, really? It’s like when Kataeb students in NDU are beaten to a bloody pulp for setting off fireworks, while LAU Future and Amal students hurl concrete blocks at each other, and no one even bothers to check it out. Which begs the question, is the LAF at the mercy of political leaders? And have Christian leaders time and again pulled the rug from under the very supporters they incite to action, while Mulsim ones draw “red lines” left and right the LAF doesn’t dare cross?
What happened today was shameful. Kfardebian and Keserwan and other self-proclaimed moderate Christians should be the better example, not mirror Assir’s radical ideologies. All we see is “an eye for an eye” when Christ said “turn the other cheek”. I am extremely certain that Jesus never told anyone to block roads because someone is coming to do a “isti3rad” (elaborate show). I am also extremely certain that pride was the deadliest of the 7 sins, so I can’t really find any religious justification for today, only bigoted ones.
Assir sucks, and he’s scary and I honestly believe he will be the end of Lebanon as we know it in the not-so-distant future. I am wholeheartedly against every single word and idea he utters and stands for. However, I am better than him, and so are you. We believe in democracy and freedom and fairness and equality, one where “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” as Evelyn Beatrice Hall said in her biography on Voltaire. Don’t get muddled down in the filth of religious bigotry and intolerance. Be the better person, the better side, the side people in the future will look back to and say “wow, these guys were awesome” instead of “I wish they didn’t shoot up that bus in”…
Photos via Reuters