When the “October 17th” (2019) Revolution erupted in Lebanon, it included all (religious) communities and age groups. No political party was spared popular criticism- a clear indication of the citizens objection to the entire political system and its components.
Yet, while the « Shiite street » erupted in anger against Hezbollah and the Amal Movement in the first days of the Revolution, it was soon brought under control and muzzled, except for a few audacious members of the Shiite elites who persisted.. at their risks and perils. A retreat which astonished the common Lebanese and frustrated some of their resolve against the political regime and towards the deteriorating economic situation. This general shiite retreat was related to past causes that are still relevant today.
The reasons for the reluctance of the so-called Shiite street, in spite of its persistent simmering anger, are due to various reasons, including religious beliefs, coercion, the antagonism between old and new, in addition to two collaterals, namely the Conspiracy Theory and the Stockholm Syndrome, so inseparable from the daily lives of Shiites!
Hizbollah, which now controls the Shiite community and the country itself, was built on a very strong doctrine which it strived to ingrain and infuse on a daily as well a on periodic basis and which increased the buffer separating the Shiites from the rest of the Lebanese, making their integration into society and their acceptance of the idea of the one State very difficult. This is a task that can only be entrusted to those who apprehend this « Shiite cipher » and are determined on dismantling it!
Even at a very tender age, a Shiite child is subject to ideological and party indoctrination. He is allegorically « linked » to two « times », namely, the time of the martyr of “Hussein” (the Prophet’s grandson and son of the fourth Imam, Ali) and the near future time of the coming (emergence from occultation) of the « Awaited Mehdi ». And Shiites are preparing for his return, a mission inculcated into children mainly by their families. As soon as he starts to reason a Shiite child is subjected to Shiite religious culture which, as of 1982, was reprogrammed with deliberate links aiming at revering “Khamenei” and “Nasrallah”, in the first place. So that any criticism “Khamenei” or “Nasrallah” in front of even five-year-olds becomes a cause for weeping, inciting feelings of hatred hating the critic.
The “Mehdi Scouts” attract about ninety percent of Shiite children, and its mission is to ingrain the doctrines of Hezbollah in their young minds- that with the help of schools in their neighborhoods. Religious lessons are poured out in the “Mehdi Scouts” camps, endearing the « military practice » and driving them to leave their academic studies and join the ranks of Hezbollah.
Affiliation to Hezbollah takes place, usually at the age of fifteen. In addition to indoctrination, a supportive factor is the lack of job opportunities and Hezbollah’s control of decision-making instances in all State institutions. Thus, Shiite young men are subject to so-called educational, but in fact ideological courses, soon followed by their entry into the party’s hierarchy with the promise of assuming responsibilities in the « party » (Hezb)- on the (first) condition of not mixing with citizens of other religious communities or even going to their neighborhoods…
Along with religious culture, a military culture is ingrained, starting with a 41 days course, in which most of youth involved lose their passion to complete their school studies and adopt the principle of the “culture of death” based on the (Shiite) doctrine of “one of two good things, either victory or martyrdom”. With an emphasis on death to ensure entering the promised Heavens. All of which is concomitant with a hatred of life and a « heathening » of those who work to prove themselves in life, in conformity with two (presumed) traditions (hadiths), namely, “those are the unknown soldiers of God on earth, who are known in the Heavens” and “no wealth is made except from avarice or the forbidden”. This is the moment when the members of Hezbollah reach the highest degree of reverence for the “Vilayat-e Faqih” and its ruler. How not, when they are certain of his daily « sitting » (literally) with the Awaited Mehdi- unaware that the legends and promises were conducive to His appearance in the time of Khomeini, in order to liberate Jerusalem together…
In a related context, a good number of Shiites have emancipated themselves from the Shiite « community » and were led to critical studies of its ideas and convictions. When they said “No”, such dissidents were intimidated either through their families or their surroundings and lost their jobs; some of them were imprisoned in their homes under the power of their fathers. And whoever did not stop, has lost his friends or left his hometown; a dissident could be threatened with his life or freedom if Hezbollah captured him. Or else, in his reputation with « security files » fabricated, shamelessly, by State security services, at the behest of Hezbollah. This has forced many of anti Hezbollah Shiites to remain silent and to accept the bitter situation.. in order to avoid « the bitterest »..
Still, there are free Shiite voices that did not remain silent. They have been displaced from their hometowns, or have left Lebanon altogether- an indication of the presence of many Shiite dissidents who are not disclosing their views to anyone, fearing for themselves or their families. And this scares Hezbollah! It is scared that we might establish a Shiite party or grouping to confront it. To countrer such a possibility, Hezbollah created ‘ration cards’ bearing the name of “Carpets” which allow some Shiite supporters to buy Iranian and Syrian subsidized goods- while allowing Hezbollah to launder its money. This, in addition to starting free hospitalization in Shiite neighborhoods. All of which is, of course, aimed at curbing any uprising in the « Shiite street » and in preparation for the hard times ahead..
This is a brief on what is happening to the Shiite community. It is, also, a brief on the reasons that prevent Shiites from rebelling. For, whoever says “no” loses his shelter and home, and may even lose his reputation and life…