11/14/2019, 18.27
LEBANON
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As protesters honour a ‘Martyr of the Revolution’, the protest movement starts to splinter

by Pierre Balanian

Maronite Patriarch Al Rahi condemns the killing of Alaa Abu Fakhr on Tuesday. Initially united, the Lebanese are beginning to splinter, especially among Christians, over President Aoun.

 

Shuweifat (AsiaNews) – The Maronite Patriarch, Card Beshara Al Rahi, condemned the killing of Alaa Abu Fakhr on Tuesday. During the Rosary prayer, he expressed his “deepest condolences to the family of the martyr Alaa Abu Fakhr.

“I stand with them, their loved ones and all Lebanese,” said the Patriarch. “We consider him a martyr of the people’s and youth movement and pray that his blood will be an offering for the life of Lebanon.”

The prelate goes on to voice his sadness over “attacks against demonstrators. We reject violence in all its forms wherever it happens. We remember all the wounded in our prayers, and call for their quick healing.”

Alaa Abu Fakhr, 38, was killed Tuesday evening in Khalde by a member of Lebanon’s military intelligence. The country is in mourning, albeit unofficially. In his hometown, Shuweifat, large posters have been plastered on walls.

Following Druze custom, women, their heads covered by white veils, have been visiting his family. Others have been coming too to offer their condolences to the Abu Fakhr clan, who have always been close to Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP.

For protesters, Alaa has now become a Martyr of the Revolution. Before he was a member of the Shuweifat municipal council. On the day of his death, he went to block roads to Khalde with his wife, son, brother-in-law Bassam Alameddine and others.

His killing in front of his son and his desperate wife, who was shouting whilst trying to spare her son the horror, has shaken public opinion. In Shuweifat many doubt that justice will ever be done despite the arrest of the person accused in connection with the shooting.

Young Druze say they will respect the call for calm by their religious leader, but deep down many want revenge. The victim’s funeral took place 1 pm Thursday, local time.

In Martyrs Square and elsewhere, people have lit candles and gathered in prayer. In Tripoli an artist, Ghayas Al Rawi, painted a huge mural representing the "Martyr”. He announced he would add his wife and son next to him.

One of the oft-heard chants since the start of the protest movement has been ‘All means all’ in reference to politicians. Now, the sincerity of some protesters about doing this is being questioned.  

Immediately after Alaa’s tragic death, PSP leader Walid Jumblatt visited the hospital where the victim had been taken. To do so, he had to make his way through protest blockades. After the visit, Jumblat spoke to protesters asking them to remain calm.

Likewise, Falange party leader Sami Gemayel was favourably received by protesters, even though shortly before they were shouting ‘All means all’.

Much of the anger caused by the latest incident was vented against Gebran Bassil, son-in-law of Lebanese President Michel Aoun, whose party represents 70 per cent of Christians.

Against this background, political parties are increasingly feeling obliged to deny any involvement in the violence. At the same time, initially united Lebanese are beginning to splinter, especially among Christians, between those in favour or President Aoun and those against him.

Yesterday in Jal El Dib, a Christian area in northern Beirut, Edouard El Deek, a Christian, an ex-soldier affiliated with Bassil’s Free Patriotic Movement party, fired a Kalashnikov against protesters. He was arrested by the security forces right after protesters took hold of him. The Free Patriotic Movement denied any involvement in the incident.

The Lebanese Forces also issued a denial after the party was accused of being behind the blockade of the Nahr el Kalb tunnel where some protesters begun to erect a concrete wall, which was later torn down.

Meanwhile, Lebanon’s secret services yesterday arrested a well-known uprising activist who was protesting in front of the presidential palace in Baabda. Charged with insulting the head of state, he could get six months in prison.

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