Across the Bay

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Dispelling Myths

One of the myths Hizbullah likes to propagate (and which always finds eager and willing, uncritical, groupie journalists like Cobban) is that the party never used/es its weapons against other Lebanese. This is historically false (I'm not sure how people forget Hizbullah's wars with its Shiite rival Amal, and even with the PSP), and remains false today (with often-deadly clashes with Amal going on on a regular basis).

But here's one incident that happened yesterday, not against Amal, but against the local police in the town of Aramoun (Aleyh - Chouf). An-Nahar reports that the police, acting on a municipal order, were taking down some loudspeakers at a residential coop when they were "forbidden" by Hizbullah members from performing their duty. This led to a fist fight and a heated exchange, which then developed to a shoot out, and Hizbullah's people surrounding the police car and preventing it from leaving the place.

Here's the kicker. The Army was called in, and six guys from the police were arrested!

The incident reportedly reverberated quickly in the surrounding area, amidst political efforts to contain it and to prevent it from escalating, especially as the townspeople gathered in front of the municipal building this morning demanding that the cops, themselves local boys, be set free.

The head of the municipal council held a press conference where he repeated the necessary glorification of the party's efforts in liberating the south, but, based on the clear popular anger, also declared that "we do not accept that the party's arms be turned against our sons."

He went on to explain the incident in the conference. Basically, someone apparently linked to Hizbullah put up several loudspeakers (among several other violations) on roof tops and balconies. The townspeople started complaining (since October 2004) and the city council sent cops to check it out, and they were promised that all but one loudspeaker would be removed. Upon follow up, it turns out that nothing was done. So a Hizbullah member came by and was told that they would like all the loudpseakers removed except for one, which will be turned away from the residential area. The Hizbullah member told him that they were converting a depot into a mosque and the speakers were to be put there. After checking the location, a license was issued approving the project.

However, the complaints kept on coming and the loudspeaker situation remained the same. And, the councilman said, every time cops were sent, they were faced with contempt and were not taken seriously. Also, every time that would happen, they would receive a call from the party. This last time, the Hizbullah people were informed that the speakers were going to be taken down, except for one. As for the sports field, another was offered further away from the residential area.

However, when the cops arrived, a Hizbullah guy pulled his gun and started shooting. The cops were not all armed (municipal cops aren't always packing), and had only two hand guns. Hizbullah brandished AK 47s, and refused to let the police car out, even after the municipality called Hizbullah officials. Then the Army came and arrested guys, and the councilman was lamenting that the main instigator was not touched. The councilman was outraged and said that the dignity of the town would not be touched, and the council will not be provoked.

He went on to reveal a few more things that dispell a few more myths about Hizbullah. He revealed that he "made a compromise" with them on the rent amount (for the field I presume), according to the range that "they saw fit!" They then asked for lighting, and he provided it, and cleaned the roads. "Everything they asked for we supplied." However, "provocation, shooting, and blocking a police car, that I won't tolerate." He also insistted that he won't compromise on the loudspeakers, except for one for the prayer house.

Later, all who were arrested were let go.

This is an example of some of the things that go on in Hizbullah areas, a state within a state. Keep that in mind the next time you read Cobban and her likes.