Thursday, October 27, 2005

Freedom of Expression in the "new" Lebanon. The (unintentionally funny) spokesperson of the Ahbash Movement in Lebanon, `Abdul-Qadir Al-Fakhani, held a press conference the other day to explain the references to Al-Ahbash in the Mehlis report. Of course, his explanations were dubious; and he simply dismissed the phone calls from and to the `Abdul-`Al brothers as "natural." But I noticed that he blamed the campaign against Al-Ahbash on a "fanatical Wahhabi chorus." But that phrase was censored in most Lebanese AND Arab press reports about the conference. Al-Ahbash, since the 1990s, have become a tool of Syrian intelligence in Lebanon, but they still have a strong cultish organization that refers to its spiritual guide as "the renewer of the age, the supporter of the Prophet's path, and the modernizer of Time." In one family we know, when the kids joined Al-Ahbash in the 1980s, they kicked out their father from the house and dismissed him as kafir (because he was a Shi`ite).