BEIRUT: With the results of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) imminent, which Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah has said will indict members of his Hizbullah group, world leaders are stressing the need for a peaceful response to political tensions.
But as history has shown, differences between Lebanon’s diverse array of religious sects and political groups can too-often lead to civil strife.
Many young people, however, have not directly experienced the country’s 1975-1990 Civil War.
A new Facebook group aims to remind the country’s youth of the horrors of this period, in the hope of creating a vocal opposition movement against anything similar erupting again.
Established less than a month ago, on October 6, the social networking site group, “We Are Against Civil War in Lebanon,” already has over 3,500 members.
The first post sums up the group’s message succinctly.
“We do not want civil war in Lebanon. We have no reason to kill each other. We want to live in peace and build up our future instead of burying our children killed by their Lebanese brothers,” it reads.
Raya Hilal, 26, a musician from Lebanon, created the group. She told The Daily Star that she wanted to provide a space where everyone could share their thoughts on the best methods to maintain peace.
“The fear of a new civil war is growing each day … I feel that a very large majority of the Lebanese are against the very idea of living [through] civil war again, regardless of their political opinion. I created this group to give each and every one of us the opportunity to express our strong opposition to the civil war.”
It was not a particular event or political utterance that inspired Hilal to create the group, but rather “the very bad level of the political configuration in our country which is leading us, despite all the Lebanese people’s will, to a precipice.”
The group’s wall is full of impassioned posts, stressing the common nature of all Lebanese, and their desire for peace.
As Hussein Hoteit writes on the group wall, “[18 sects] in Lebanon but we all have one God so let us live in peace and freedom brothers and sisters!”
Kimberly Bishop el-Turk adds: “I’ve been in Lebanon for about three months and I love it. This country is amazing. It’s full of warm and compassionate people … I have children who I hope can grow up in this country and feel safe and secure.”
Alongside the positive messages of pacifism and unity among all Lebanese people, regardless of sect or political persuasion, there is also a focus on the horrors and atrocities of the Civil War, lest it be forgotten.
Eddy Naim thinks the media has a part to play. “All media in Lebanon should start broadcasting images and footage of the civil war, [to] remind everyone what it was like and show those who were too young what it will be like.”
In this vein, the group also features harrowing images from Lebanon’s Civil War.
While Hilal was very young during the conflict, she has vivid memories of it. “I can never forget the pain people I knew were feeling, all the tears I’ve seen, and all the destruction.”
Stressing the lessons to be learned from the past, Ghassan Jenainaty wrote in one post: “It is time for Lebanese to learn from their mistakes or the history will never forgive them. Enough is enough!”
But what exactly can a Facebook group achieve? Hilal explains. “My aim is to reach members that share this point of view, which will allow us to express ourselves, but mostly to be heard shouting high and loud our opposition to war, and eventually organize any pacifistic action against this threat.”
Only then will politicians sit up and listen, Hilal says. “In all the countries of the world, true politicians listen to the opinion of the people and work for the people, for the country, for a better future and not the contrary.”