New funeral, same old story as Lebanon succumbs to sectarian violence
United by hatred for their prime minister, the Lebanese are divided by almost everything else. Some said the funeral of slain intelligence chief, Wissam al Hassan, on Sunday would be Lebanon’s Princess Diana moment: a time for the nation to pull together. Others muttered darkly about sectarian conflicts.
In the end, it was division that ruled the day as fights broke out and the recriminations began. No matter that this was a funeral; Sunni leaders still thought it was an appropriate time to rile up their mourning countrymen and call for revenge attacks on the Shia-led government.
The speeches led to violent clashes between the Sunni, Tariq al Jdideh neighborhood and the Shia, Barbour area of the capital. Overnight two people died and another twelve were wounded and the much-maligned Lebanese army began raiding local houses.
As ever in Lebanon, the chaos had more to do with neighboring Syria than with their own tiny nation. The Lebanese have lived through years of attempted and real political assassinations, mostly by Syrian security forces although rarely proven as such.
The tribunal for former Prime Minister, Rafiq Hariri, killed by a bomb while driving in his motorcade in 2005, is still ongoing but the executions show no signs of letting up.
Most fingers point to the Syrian regime for this latest assassination, as Mr. Hassan was known as a supporter of the Syrian opposition. It is an all too familiar story for those in the know.
This kind of spillover from one nation to another shows just how fragile the borders of Lebanon still are. With Shia poltical party, Hezbollah, creating a state within a state and growing animosity for a deadbeat prime minister, the Mediterranean slip of land shows no obvious signs of being a country at all.
The idea that the funeral of one man could cause a nation to fall into such chaos shows just how deeply the fractures continue to run in Lebanese society.
Do you think Wissam al Hassan's funeral was just more of the same? Or change the country change and unite? Tell us what you think below.