Sunday, 18 May 2008

Sectarian tensions

The New York Times reports on the growing sectarianism among Sunnis. Although the article is rather skewed—it fails to mention that the vicitms of the Future Current mobs in the north were Sunni supporters of the opposition, or that the crucial Sunni city of Saida also backed Hizbollah. However it captures some of the sectarian fury among government supporters.

Here's a clip:

Mr. Obaid was one of many Sunni men who drove to Beirut after hearing that Hezbollah was attacking the offices of his political patron, Mr. [Saad] Hariri. On arriving in the city, he stopped at a checkpoint, where militiamen asked him where he was from.

He barely had time to answer, he said, before the men — who recognized him as a Sunni from his northern accent — opened fire on the car, riddling it with bullets and killing Mr. Obaid’s young nephew, Abdo.

Meanwhile, as the street fighting went on in west Beirut on May 8 Mr. Hariri’s Sunni militia had proved to be largely mythical: its fighters were quickly thrashed. Some were given orders not to fight, so as to avoid a massacre.

The next day, as Hezbollah fighters and their allies were taking control of west Beirut, one Sunni fighter ran up to a group of young men in the Sunni stronghold of Tarik Jadideh and told them it was over.

“Hurry up, run away, it is over, there is nothing left,” the gunman said, before running off himself. “They are coming after us, and this time with shoes, not weapons, to humiliate us even more.”

Before long, a sense of communal victimhood and rage spread. On the way to a funeral on May 10 for one of the young Sunni men killed during the battles, mourners walked in a procession while chanting, “Shiites are the enemies of God.”


ms. tee said...

The NY Times article would be fascinating for a study in the marketing of the Sunni-Shia conflict. I wonder if Sachi and Sachi will brand it next.

I do not have a blogspot account, so I could not comment on the Shemali blog, by I simply love it, especially the silk article. Do you have more sources on women's movement and societies in the late Ottoman Empire? I am familiar with Michel Jiha's books on Dimashqiyah and Ajami, but there must be more.

Are you familiar with Elizabeth Thompson's Colonial Citizens, by the way? I think you'd enjoy it.

Lebanese Socialist said...

Hey ms. tee
The only book I know of on women during this period is the excelent Inventing Home, by Akram Fouad Khater.

I was heading to head off to the Lebanese University library to raid their PHD section... especially to get hold of the most comprehensive study of silk workers... but then the war got in the way.

Thanks for the other suggestions, will hunt them down.

Many regards,