A silver lining in Lebanon?

AFP/Getty Images Tensions have been rising in Lebanon since President Emile Lahoud stepped down in November, with an ensuing series of car bombings in the Christian areas of Beirut, the killings of opposition protesters by Lebanese Army officers, and 14 delays in presidential elections. These events are an escalation in a long period of political ...

596466_080214_lebanon12.jpg
596466_080214_lebanon12.jpg

AFP/Getty Images

Tensions have been rising in Lebanon since President Emile Lahoud stepped down in November, with an ensuing series of car bombings in the Christian areas of Beirut, the killings of opposition protesters by Lebanese Army officers, and 14 delays in presidential elections. These events are an escalation in a long period of political instability in Lebanon, including the summer war with Israel in 2006 and the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, three years ago today.

Today, two very different events took place in the tiny Mediterranean country. Hezbollah held funeral ceremonies for Imad Moughniyah, its military leader, who was assassinated Tuesday night in Damascus. Meanwhile, Lebanese government supporters gathered by the thousands, in the pouring rain, to commemorate Hariri's death. The two events happened mere miles from one another in Beirut, and tensions were understandably high. Thousands of soldiers and police were on guard to prevent the two factions from meeting.

AFP/Getty Images

Tensions have been rising in Lebanon since President Emile Lahoud stepped down in November, with an ensuing series of car bombings in the Christian areas of Beirut, the killings of opposition protesters by Lebanese Army officers, and 14 delays in presidential elections. These events are an escalation in a long period of political instability in Lebanon, including the summer war with Israel in 2006 and the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri, three years ago today.

Today, two very different events took place in the tiny Mediterranean country. Hezbollah held funeral ceremonies for Imad Moughniyah, its military leader, who was assassinated Tuesday night in Damascus. Meanwhile, Lebanese government supporters gathered by the thousands, in the pouring rain, to commemorate Hariri’s death. The two events happened mere miles from one another in Beirut, and tensions were understandably high. Thousands of soldiers and police were on guard to prevent the two factions from meeting.

It’s easy to focus on Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah’s declaration of open war on Israeli targets the world over, or the fact that Iran’s foreign minister paid his respects to Mougniyah, one of the world’s most notorious terrorists. Yet, there is also good news coming out of the Lebanese capital: No violent clashes have been reported from Beirut today. During their rememberances of Hariri, pro-government supporters focused on Christian-Muslim unity instead of the divisions that increase with each violent act. Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Siniora’s speech calling people to attend the memorial included the following plea:

[W]e call on our brothers who have not joined us to think deeply, so that our causes can be one and they are in reality, and so our mottos can be one and our demonstrations one and victories one.”

And, as a sign of demonstrators’ committment to peace, church bells rang out at the same moment as the call to prayer, creating a stirring, if dissonant harmony. It’s a start.

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