Hezbollah Welcomes Pope
By: Imad Mrammel Translated from As-Safir (Lebanon).
Hezbollah is dealing with the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Lebanon as an interested party and not just as an observer or spectator. Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has been keen to praise the visit and emphasize its significance. There are pictures of the pope and welcome banners spread across the main streets of Beirut’s southern suburbs, and a Hezbollah delegation will take part in an extended meeting with the pope in the presidential palace in Baabda. They will also attend the mass that the honored visitor will hold.
About This Article
Hezbollah’s warm welcome for the pope may strike some as strange, but the hospitality is aligned with the organization's general view that Christians are essential to its power and to its vision for the Middle East, writes Imad Mrammel. Part of that mission is countering the single-religion state vision put forth by Israel.Publisher: As-Safir (Lebanon)
When Benedict XVI is a Guest on the Suburbs For These Reasons Hezbollah Opens His Arms to the Pope
Author: Imad Mrammel
First Published: September 14, 2012
Posted on: September 14 2012
Translated by: Joelle El-Khoury
Categories : Lebanon
This thoughtfulness is not anything new. Previously, Hezbollah gave the late pope John Paul II’s visit to Lebanon both attention and care. The party was involved in the preliminary discussions and paperwork that paved the way for the previous pope’s visit 15 years ago. This visit seemed to serve as a road map for Christians to firmly establish their existence in their own lands, and also provided guidance on how to interact with their surroundings and its various issues.
The timing of the pope’s arrival to a country located on a regional fault line gives the visit an exceptional dimension and particular importance, and fixes the eyes of both Christians and Muslims on the pope. Although this unconventional visitor doesn’t have any miracles up his sleeve — as he explicitly said himself — many believe that his presence will constitute a move to counter efforts to divide people, sow strife, empty the East of Christians and lure Muslims into senseless fighting.
The attention that Hezbollah has given to the pope's visit fits into a larger framework that reflects its commitment to protecting pluralism and diversity in this region that is facing a destroying unilateral logic. This logic at times manifests itself in US policy that seeks to impose its hegemony and will on the Arab world, and at other times reveals itself in takfiri ideology that denies the rights of others and tries to remove them from existence, simply because they have a different opinion or affiliation. [Takfir is the practice of one Muslim declaring another Muslim an unbeliever.]. In both cases, this unilateral logic is exacting a high cost from Christians, as immigration trends among Christian communities have shown.
Hezbollah realized that protecting the Christians of the Middle East and consolidating their role as partners with equal rights and obligations are at the heart of its priorities. Hezbollah is based on the foundation that coexistence is not just a political and national idea, but also has a deeper religious meaning. If God wanted people to all be alike and members of a single nation, he would have done that himself. However, God wanted people to be different and didn’t charge anyone in world with the task of making a final decision in this regard.
Hezbollah believes that the party shares common ground with the Vatican with regard to American policies that are considered a major source of threat to the existence of the Christians in the East.
According to Hezbollah sources, the Vatican learned about documents that reveal a plan to redraw the geopolitical map of the Middle East, a plan in which Christians will pay the higher cost of parceling out the land. This refers to the new Sykes-Picot, which is intended to break the existing entities into rival petty lands.
Accordingly, Hezbollah believes that the Vatican’s general directives mesh with its strategic concerns at the following levels:
- Insisting on pluralism and diversity in contrast to the idea of a unilateralism-based Jewish state
- Fostering the existence of the rest of the Christians in Palestine and defending the Islamic and Christian identity of Jerusalem against attempts to Judaize the city
- A commitment to coexistence in response to strife, division and exclusionary and extremist movements
- Warning against the threat of US strategy to the existence of Christians in the Arab world, where experience has shown that Washington, along with other Western countries, does not take this demographic into account when it comes to their vital interests
Some people say that the alliance between Hezbollah and some Lebanese Christian parties falls within the framework of a “minorities alliance.” However, Hezbollah firmly denies that it engages in this type of alliance, noting that in the past Hezbollah has been the first to combat this focus on a minorities alliance. Following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, various Lebanese parties supported an alliance of minorities. However, Hezbollah emerged and gave successive blows to this project.
Hezbollah emphasized that it categorically rejects the idea of alliances based on minority affiliation and cannot support such a system. The party believes that others were involved and promoted this culture, noting that its vision is the opposite of the vision that Hezbollah is accused of having. Hezbollah stressed that it prefers a nation that is big enough for all components and one that is based on mutual respect and resistance against any occupation or foreign interference, and added that “sectarian logic doesn’t fit” it.
The party added that although some attribute the idea of a “minorities alliance” to Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, they both spearheaded the battle against the original promoters of this idea. They eliminated the effects of the Israeli invasion in 1982, which — among other things — expressed the mentality of the minorities alliance that is originally linked to Israel.
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