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Hazem Al Amin

How to silence a dissident

Hezbollah is using families to intimidate nonconforming Shiites

Lebanese Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt stands alongside Shiite Muslim Cleric Hani Fahs during a sit in on February 22, 2012 to show support for the Syrian people in downtown Beirut

Over the past few years, Hezbollah has introduced a new weapon against its opponents. It is the weapon of families, which – fallacious though it is – serves the specific purpose of intimidating Shiite dissidents.

 

The practice is both atavistic and devoid of any integrity, as its victims are thus confronted with a “laser gun.” For those readers who do not have any children of their own to tell them more about “laser guns,” it shoots an invisible, imperceptible, yet nevertheless lethal beam. In this case, valiant members of these families – often those living on the fringes – immediately point their laser guns toward any Shiite prey that leaves the herd.

 

Families are not homogeneous units, so it is easy to issue irrevocable statements in their name. It amounts to nothing really, yet at the same time it is quite damaging for those involved. There is something in it that compels newspapers to publish it, something mysterious that makes it attractive. Perhaps it is because we feel that it is deadly or otherwise it amounts to nothing. Accordingly, “the Ghaddar family issued a statement in which it disassociates itself from Hanin Ghaddar.”

 

But who exactly issued the statement in the name of the Ghaddar family? The newspaper that published it does not ask this question. What matters is the vitriol made available to the editor and the appetite for quieting any contradicting voices.

 

About five years ago, a major Lebanese newspaper – one that is incidentally not close to Hezbollah – issued a statement signed by “religious scholars of the Amin family” disassociating themselves from Sayyed Ali al-Amin, then the Mufti of Tyre and Jabal Amel. After the statement was published, the clerics of the Amin family, supporters and opponents of the mufti alike, met and denounced the statement published in their name.

 

My uncle, who was one of those clerics, asked me to inquire about the source who had signed in the family’s name. I called the deputy editor-in-chief of the newspaper – a journalist with more than 40 years of experience – who replied: “Does Sayyed Ali believe that Hezbollah will leave him alone? One can publish an explanation but it would be better for Amin to leave the case to fade out on its own rather than to reactivate it by some kind of denial.”

 

Herein lies the power of the laser gun, as it embeds itself in the conscience of a journalist who has more than 40 years of experience and prevents him from inquiring about the source of a news tip and checking whether or not it is accurate. A “laser gun” is a powerful weapon as it also enables one to easily shrug off any responsibility for using it, since its mechanism of action is fallacious. “Families” are lured in by publishing a small and “innocent” piece of news that provokes those living on the fringes of the “family.” A statement is then issued, the source of which is often unknown to the family, and is published in some silly or pernicious newspaper, which further complicates the matter of denying it.

 

It’s unlikely that Hezbollah is directly tied to this wretched ploy, as those families volunteering for the job are issuing such statements and addressing the party from their own accord. Newspapers, in turn, publish them knowing that they endear themselves to the party. The families do not issue any denials because they are afraid of Hezbollah, even though such statements sever whatever ties might be left with it.

 

The only means, then, to cure the poison of a laser gun is to think of our families as children who find the plastic guns and the beam they emit as funny. The cure is for Hanin to smile at the “cousin” who issued the statement – if indeed it was issued by one of her cousins – and to convince herself that his sole motivation is to endear himself to his or her masters.

 

This article has been translated from the original Arabic.

Lebanese Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt stands alongside Shiite Muslim Cleric Hani Fahs during a sit in on February 22, 2012 to show support for the Syrian people in downtown Beirut. (AFP Photo/Joseph Eid)

"It’s unlikely that Hezbollah is directly tied to this wretched ploy, as those families volunteering for the job are issuing such statements and addressing the party from their own accord."

  • keti.raicheva

    TERRORIST CRIMINAL MEMBER OF HEZBOLLAH- HUSSEIN HAIDAR MAKED TORTURE TO MY HUSBAND ON 25.11.2012-28.01.2013y. Hussein Haidar- 50 years old and Abu Fadel maked TORTURE TO MY HUSBAND !!! Hussein Haidar and ABU FADEL ARE TERRORISTS CRIMINALS! Lebanese Prosecutor Saqr Saqr must put tham in Prison! Have another five criminals terrorists from Hezbollah that maked Torture to my husband and to so much Lebanese Peoples! Why Lebanese State Institutions allow to Terrorists Criminals Hezbollah make KIDNAPPING, TORTURE AND MURDERES ? Mr. Hasan Nasrallah and all leaders of Hezbollah must going in PRISON!!!

    May 20, 2014

  • keti.raicheva

    Our European Bulgarian Citizen, INNOCENT, 63 YEARS OLD, VERY ILL TALAL MOHAMED KHALIL STAY WITHOUT EVIDENCE OF CRIME ONE YEAR AND SIX MONTHS IN PRISON ROUMIEH IN BEIRUT!!! WE WANT JUST COURT PROCESS FOR TALAL KHALIL !!! Talal Khalil will be on the front Lebanese Military Court on 2.06.2014y. We want INDEPENDENT FROM CRIMINALS TERRORIST HEZBOLLAH JUST COURT PROCESS FOR TALAL KHALIL!!! TERRORISTS CRIMINALS DIRECTION OF Hezbollah MUST GOING TO THE PRISON!!! FREEDOM FOR TALAL KHALIL !!! WE CONTINUE MAKE PROTESTS ON THE FRONT LEBANESE EMBASSY IN BULGARIA AND GERMANY!!! May 17, 2014 Delete

    May 20, 2014

  • keti.raicheva

    Direction of Terrorists Criminals Hezbollah must going in Prison! Direction of Hezbollah kidnapped and maked Torture to my Bulgarian Husband Talal Mohamed Khalil on period 25.11.2012- 28.01.2013y. Terrorists Hezbollah forced Talal to sign FALSE CONFESSIONS! On time of Torture Talal get three Heart attacks and two Brain Hits!! After Torture Hezbollah gived my husband to Prison Roumieh in Beirut. Talal stay one year and six Months INNOCENT, VERY ILL IN PRISON. On the 02.06.2014y. Talal will be on the front Military Lebanese Court in Beirut. Terrorists Criminals Hezbollah killed Bulgarian Citizens in Bulgaria, Burgas on 18.07.2012y. We Bulgarian Citizens want JUST COURT PROCESS FOR TALAL MOHAMED KHALIL! Talal is 63 years old, very ill in Prison! Lebanese State Institutions MUST SAVE HUMAN RIGHTS TO ALL PRISONERS IN LEBANON! DIRECTION OF HEZBOLLAH TO THE PRISON !!! FREEDOM FOR TALAL MOHAMED KHALIL ! WE CONTINUE MAKE PROTESTS ON THE FRONT LEBANESE EMBASSY IN BULGARIA AND GERMANY!!! GROUP OF EUROPEAN CITIZENS May 10, 2014 Delete

    May 20, 2014

  • Hanibaal-Atheos

    This practice has nothing to do with religion or sect. It is pervasive in backward societies where individual freedom is misunderstood. Among these societies are all Arab countries, of course, where tribalism triumphs over individualism, but oddly enough it is also prevalent in western societies that are at the bottom rungs of the First World, namely the United States where conformism is a religion despite claims of otherwise by Americans. In our eastern societies, however, this is taken to the extreme where not only will the tribe kill the individual if he/she drifts too far off the norm, but - as in the Ghaddar case - the tribe feels compelled to renounce a member who might pose a threat to his/her tribe - the threat of retaliation by another tribe. In the Ghaddar case, neither her tribe nor her enemy tribe should be concerned with what she did, because she did it AS AN INDIVIDUAL, AND NOT AS A MEMBER OF A TRIBE. There is no tribal responsibility in decisions made by individuals. That is what backward people like Arabs and others cannot grasp: The concept of "individual freedom" as being the ultimate object of democratic systems. Until they do, individuals will remain chained for better or worse to their tribes, sects, families, etc. One can also explain political inheritance with the same argument: It is not because Saad Hariri is the son of Rafik that he is likely to be as good as him! Nor are Nadim Gemayel, Taymour Jumblatt, etc.etc.etc. worthy of political office (...)

    May 19, 2014