Couple of days ago, I read a story about Imam Moussa al-Sadr and the new information about his case. What struck me the most is how a community kept the case of its leader alive. It did everything it can to find out what really happened to him. Is he dead, alive, in prison, …. . In the 1970s, Sadr found himself increasingly at odds with the Palestinian factions that had taken over southern Lebanon from where they launched attacks into Israel. The residents of southern Lebanon, including Sadr’s Shi’ite constituents, inevitably bore the brunt of Israel’s retaliation. Then, in August 1978, Sadr traveled to Libya with two companions, apparently hoping to persuade Gaddafi to use his influence to curb the Palestinians in Lebanon. The imam was last seen in public on Aug. 31, 1978, shortly before his scheduled meeting with Gaddafi.
Since 1978, the Shiite community did everything it can in order to find out what really happened to the founder of “Amal”. Organizations were established to keep his cause alive. They kept following all investigations, Libyans, Italians, Lebanese… . Kept pressuring to find the truth about his disappearance inside and outside Lebanon (1978 lebanese investigation, first Italian investigation in 79, seconf Italian investigation in 81, Lebanese court in 81, lebanese investigation in 2001, Amnesty reports in 2001, in 2004 families of Sadr and his companions claims against Qaddafi in 2004, indictment of Qaddafi by Lebanese court in 2004, reopening the case in Italy in 2005, follow up with Italy in 2006, … the list is long. Lately, after the fall of Qaddafi initiatives are doubled, Lebanese delegation went to Libya and Libyans visited Lebanon. You can look up everything that is related to his case on this site: http://www.imamsadr.net/
Reading how the Shiite community kept the case of al-Sadr alive made me look at the inability of the Christian community to keep the case of their assassinated leader Bachir Gemayel alive. Bachir Gemayel came out from the Kataeb rank and founded the Lebanese Forces. He was elected President of Lebanon on August 23rd, 1982 and was assassinated on Spetember 14, 1982. One person, Habib Shartouni, was arrested in relation to his assassination. Shartouni confessed that he was the person who planted the bomb and he was given the orders by Nabil al-alam from the SSNP (Syrian Social Nationalist party). It was presumed that Syrian Baath regime was behind the assassination. The investigation stopped at Shartouni for years. No one else was arrested. The investigation file was thrown away. Shartouni escaped from prison during the Syrian offence and invasion of the last free regions in Lebanon on October 3rd, 1990. Since then, Shartouni was spotted walking free in the area where Bachir was assassinated, he got married and have kids, he gave an interview to a Lebaense newspaper recently, ….
What struck me the most is the inability of his followers and family to keep his case alive. There is a huge difference in how the Shiite handled al-Sadr case and how the Christians did in Bachir’s case. There are couple of websites that talk about Bachir’s past and his vision. His wife created the Bachir Gemayel Foundation, but this foundation is no match to Imam Sadr foundation. Bachir Gemayel Foundation did barely nothing in keeping his assassination file alive. Even their website is almost out of commission. His son, MP Nadim Gemayel failed in reopening his father case. His son and the Lebanese Forces failed to include Bachir Gemayel case in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon. They only managed to reproduce his speeches and make few songs.
Looking at what the Shia did for al-Sadr case and what the Christians did for Bachir case, you see the difference between two communities. One is eager to keep its case and cause alive and another who sank into producing songs.