Hostage of my religion

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Hostage of my religion
 
Lebanon needs a new political force free of coercive authority structures.

Growing up in a multicultural country like Lebanon has, no doubt, been a blessing. The differences that make up our society were always considered a richness rather than grounds for cultural shock. For years, I believed that all Lebanese are equal, with equal rights and that no one shall ever deny me of my rights. Or so I thought.

The devastating Israeli war on Lebanon this past summer and the stressful times we’re currently living, through, have deeply shaken my beliefs.

Many Lebanese, who like myself have always felt free to speak their minds and have fundamentally pledged allegiance to country before religion, are at a crossroads. As time passes, I’m starting to feel abandoned by the first and taken hostage by the second.

This is especially true for many Lebanese Shiites who are bewildered by the position taken by both parties "officially" representing them. It is unconceivable that, under the pretext of religious righteousness, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese are voluntarily obstructing the rebirth of a free, just and independent Lebanon.

It’s an undeniable fact that Lebanon’s two main Shiite political parties have managed to rally the bulk of the Shiite population. Yet what is inexplicable is how they were able to do so without remotely being challenged by other Shiite contenders.

Personally, the principle of Wilayat al-Fakih, or following the imam, doesn’t specifically convince me, since a vast majority of Shiites are highly educated and fervent believers in diversity and debate. The only responsible explanation that arises is that extraordinary circumstances have tamed this otherwise rebellious group into total submission.

I believe that most Shiites have fallen victims to the "Stockholm Syndrome." The population is not being held at gunpoint, but rather a financial and educational blackmail that has taken place for the past 15 years. The people have grown accustomed to being fully dependent on their party for economic survival, and have thus completely lost the ability to decide for themselves.

Breaking this vicious circle will demand tremendous dedication, in addition to favorable regional circumstances (i.e. the creation of a viable Palestinian state and the liberation of the occupied Shebaa Farms), as well as the support of all Lebanese sects.

Salvation has to come from outside this corrupt circle, which claims to represent all Shiites, as if God and divinity were enough to blindfold us and lead us like cattle to the alter to be slaughtered.

An independent Shiite force has to emerge, blended with independent free spirits of all sects. This is our only true salvation.

I call on all Lebanese to take a stand and make their voice heard. This country is tired of demonstrations and confrontations. So make your voices heard and organize workshops for people to speak their mind without intimidation.

And, for God’s sake, leave God out of it!

Nesrine Yaghi

Nesrine Yaghi was a member of a joint UND/Social Affairs Ministry project to gather information and compile statistics following the Lebanese Civil War

Source: The Daily Star
Wednesday, December 13, 2006