The Muftis & Hamad Gathering
By: Elias Bejjani
LCCC Media Chairman

Imam Ali said: "The inner self of the liar is full with fright, his outer self is fraught with malice."

Lebanon's 'body and soul' has been subjected since 1975 to all kinds of ravaging wars. Wars inflicted with different kinds of arms and dirty weapons. These wars continue unabated to this date and can be aptly called the "wars of others on Lebanese soil." Neither the illegal objectives nor the despicable tools used to achieve the "Original Plot" have changed.

The aggressors are still cowering behind mercenaries who are paper Lebanese, carrying Lebanese identity cards but continuing to perpetrate the same old dirty crimes against their nation.

These mercenaries, who have previously betrayed their country's sovereignty, independence and freedom, are missing no opportunity today to please or appease their Syrian Lords, all the while gorging themselves shamelessly on the blood of the poor and the oppressed Lebanese.

The poison of these mercenaries infects all sects and religious factions. It makes no difference whether they call themselves Sunnis, Maronites, Shiite, or Druze. They cannot hide their true identity under the religious cover they cloak themselves with. They are of one tribe, and one tribe only: The tribe of the traitors.

Like roaches they scurry for cover, hiding behind names, religious gatherings, and other political formations. When will they learn that they cannot costume their treachery beneath the cover of religion, or behind make-up? There is no refuge for their actions.  No camouflage under which to mask their selfish profiteering, destructive aims, and especially the puppet strings that lead straight to their masters in Damascus, who dictate and authorize every move.

No one is fooled or misled by the cheap tactics of Syria to keep Lebanon in its vice grip. The "Divide and Rule" strategy, which has been pursued in Lebanon by the anachronistic and Stalinist regime of Syria for the past 27 years, is still alive and kicking. One can witness it every day in Lebanon.

The recent statement by the Muftis of Lebanon questioning Lebanon's sovereignty, and the declaration of the "Hamad Gathering", were reminiscent of days in the mid-1970s when campaigns resorted to smear tactics against their opponents. The sole purpose of the last orchestrated sectarian meetings between religious clerics and representatives of Prime Minister Hariri, who is the main undeclared sponsor of these meetings, was to exacerbate the divisions within the already fragile consensus and modus vivendi between the communities in Lebanon.

The young doctor of Damascus has already diagnosed the problem as internal Lebanese-Lebanese lack of consensus. But the diagnosis is false, and the cure is a sad and pathetic one: an old and worn-out potion concocted by his late father. If the idea is to spread the disease instead of curing it, then the idea has worked pretty well. The devious solution was a simple one: Start a fire, offer to extinguish it, and command any price you desire for your services. Even if that price is the sovereignty of your neighbor.

How shall we respond to the dubious Muftis and Hamad Gathering?  With restraint and in a different language than the one with which we were addressed. Not only do we reject their foreign language, but we also refuse to be trapped and drowned like rats in the same muddy water in which they now struggle. We challenge them to make the effort and learn our language. Speak the language of a genuine Lebanon. A language of a sovereign, independent and democratic Lebanon. Speak the language of peaceful coexistence and mutual respect among the multiple ethnic and religious communities of Lebanon.

We espouse a firm belief in a modern Lebanon, where human rights again prevail.
We believe in Lebanon's distinct identity as a cultural kaleidoscope.
We embrace its proud history as a refuge and a safe haven for persecuted and oppressed minorities from all over the Middle East.

How do we answer the Muftis and Hamad Gathering?
Only with the memory of our murdered leaders: Sheikh Hassan Khaled, Kamal Jumblatt, Dany Chamoun, Riad Taha, Salim Al-Laouzi,  Imam Moussa Al Sadr, Bashir Gemayel, René Moawwad, Ramzi Al-Irani - whose blood has not yet dried - and the hundreds of thousands of other Lebanese citizens who were killed.

Lebanon's enemies have used Syrian tanks without success. They tout any cause in order to deceive their Arab brothers as to their real agenda. While purporting to champion the Palestinian cause, they play that card only when it serves their needs, while in reality they abuse it and viciously trample it. They switch tactics according to their objective, sailing in many seas: Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Afghanistan. Who knows where next their barges will carry them! Somalia or South Yemen after Syria? Despite their long journeys they still have not learned. They do not know how to speak the language of true patriotism.

They have not yet learned the language of moderation and modernity. They are caught in an endless anachronistic circle. They resort blindly to the same provocative tactics and sermons. When will they ever learn? The same religious provocation that cost Lebanon hundreds of thousands of lives was sadly ineffective. This same cheap and irresponsible language has only brought destruction. It stole one-third of Lebanon's population. This outdated and impotent language exacerbated poverty, misery, social disintegration and the collapse of moral values.

Lebanon is a rape victim! Must we really remind our compatriots of the Muftis and the Hamad Gathering of this tragic fact? Freedom? - Denied! Sovereignty? - Stolen! Independence? - Ignored! There is no longer a single national authority on the ground. There are pockets of bandits, powerful authorities and Mafia clans. Every now and then our country is remembered by the Western world, just long enough to be accused of harboring terrorist organizations, drug traffickers, and wanted international criminals and terrorists, etc. Otherwise, Lebanon is left to languish in the hands of its Syrian jailer. Lebanon is bankrupt with a debt at 170% of its gross national product. There is one sad reality that no one can deny: The Syrian occupation of Lebanon has completed its 27-year anniversary.

To the participants in the Muftis and Hamad Gathering and to all the knee-jerking fellow citizens, we address you in a clear and firm voice:

1 - The 10,452 Sq. Km of Lebanon have never and will never surrender, except to Almighty God.

2 - Lebanese citizenship and our 7,000-year deeply rooted history belong to no one but to the brave, proud, and loyal Lebanese.

3 - National dignity is a non-negotiable commodity.

4 - We are Lebanese, and only Lebanese. We categorically refuse to be treated as second class citizens in our own country.

5 - We will not be graded for our national loyalty by those who are too ashamed or afraid to declare their Lebanese identity.

6 - The war with Israel is over. The entire Arabic world has recognized the existence of the Jewish State. Egypt and Jordan have made peace with Israel. The PLO has recognized and wants to live side by side with Israel. Other Arab states are conducting secret negotiations with Israel. Even Syria maintains a non-belligerence agreement it signed with Israel on the Golan Heights. Yet it continues to break that agreement through its proxies inside Lebanon by forcing this country to fight the only remaining war on Israel, and exposing our country to legitimate reprisals from Israeli armor and planes.

7 - Let there be no question that the Matn referendum and the Los Angeles Maronite conference were mere baby steps. Lebanon is traversing the path out of the long dark tunnel and on to the journey to freedom and liberation. There is no turning back.

8 - Syrian-made Trojan horses like Fouad Malek, Karim Pakradouni, Michel Murr and all the others who place Syria's welfare above that of Lebanon should better wake up. They have disgraced themselves and their country. They never have and never will represent the hopes, wishes or aspirations of the Lebanese people.

Whoever is still foolishly betting that the Syrian occupation of Lebanon will outlast the very heart and spirit of the true Lebanese resistance is delusional.  A nightmare doesn't last forever.  Nothing is eternal, especially evil. The occupation will soon reap the fate of all prehistoric regimes: extinction. The Lebanese, as one, must embrace the courageous challenge to collectively rid our beloved Lebanon of this debilitating plague. Haven't Lebanon's freedom, sovereignty and independence been ransomed long enough? Have we and all our dead not paid enough in sweat, toil, and blood?

For too long we have paid and paid and paid for a crime committed by others in our name! No more! We must reclaim our freedom, and speak for ourselves: proud, clear and united.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! Have faith. Lebanon will rise and be reborn.

Long Live Free Lebanon