Couple of days ago, the Salafist Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir and his supporters came down to Martyrs Square to protest against Syrian president Bashar Al Assad in downtown Beirut. Facing them was a small group from the Baath party in support of Assad regime.
There was no place for the Lebanese flag yesterday in Martyr Square. The area was under the Islamic and Syrian Flags. The majority of the demonstrators came from Sidon in support of Sheikh al-Asir.
Salafist believe themselves the only correct interpreters of the Koran; seek to convert all Muslims and to insure that its own fundamentalist version of Islam will dominate the world.
There are several countries and movements who support such doctrine and work for it. In a symposium on “Salafism: A Shariah approach and a national demand” on December 28, 2011, Prince Naif of Saudi Arabia said “”Salafism is rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah and calls for peaceful coexistence with other faith communities and for respecting their rights,” the crown prince said. “We have to stand united against those who launch smear campaigns on Salafism.”
In the view of many, the Arab Spring has turned to An Arab winter. They either do not know their history or they wished that things will change. According to Egyptian Salafist cleric Yasser Borhami (another product of the Arab Spring) Jews and Christians are ‘infidels’ (Al Ahram Online, December 24.2011). His fellow Salafist Mujahedeen in Libya nothing has changed. The following is a desecration of Christians cemetery in Benghazi, Libya. Calling Christians “dogs” and destroying the cross is the new Arab Spring.
So couple of days ago the salafist “Fataho” (opened) the city. They enter it and settled in a very important place, The Martyrs Square. In the 19th century, the square was known as Place des Canons. During World War I, Lebanon was under Ottoman rule. In 1915, Lebanon suffered from a food shortage due to Ottoman Turks confiscating food from the local population, swarms of locust invading the country, and western blockade by the Allies, intended to starve the Turks out. The effect was a famine, followed by plague, which killed more than a quarter of the population, mainly Christian Maronites from Mount Lebanon. A revolt against the Turks broke out which resulted in hanging of many intellectuals and nationalists on 6 May 1916 in the renamed Martyrs’ Square. Among them were Said akl, Father Joseph Hayek, Abdul Karim al-Khalil, Abed al-Wahab al-Inglizi, Joseph Bishara Hani, Mohammad and Mahmoud Mahmassani, Omar Hamad, Philip and Farid el-Khazen, and Sheikh Ahmad Tabbara. During the civil war, the square was a demarcation line between fighting factions. On March 14, 2005, over a million Lebanese took the street and demonstrated in Martyrs Square for several days which led to the withdrawal of the Lebanese troops from Lebanon.
Yesterday the Lebanese flags vanished from the square. The Lebanon of Michel Chicha, Charles Malek vanished from the square. Lebanon the wonderful and tolerant Christian-Muslim coexistence, Existential and responsible freedom and Openness to the world in space and time had died yesterday.
Yet, you still find Christian leaders saying let the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist rule the region, let us forgot their past and see what they will do in the future. What a naive and ignorant statement. Not every group or person drops its ideology and political program like certain leaders.
Yesterday, Charles Malek and Michel Chicha turned in their graves.