Nasrallah’s latest speech -2: Matryrology
Posted by worriedlebanese on 13/11/2007
It’s weird the way people change, the way one changes. Two years ago, I would have been incapable of analysing Nasrallah’s speech in a calm manner. I was in the opposition then (as I still am today) and his party was defending the outgoing government and the Syrian regime. I remember quite vividly the way each of their public manifestation would distress and aggrieve me. But I believe things have changed now. I don’t see this party as an opponent (or at least not more than most of the parties on the political scene). I don’t even feel threatened by its leader’s threats, even though I know they are dreadful and that he’s capable of putting them into action. Hezbollah and it’s leadership are assuredly apt political players who know what they want and work diligantely to get it. But instead of seeing them as a threat (which I find very counter-productive), I prefer to see them as a challenge, one that Lebanon society is ready to face. But is our political class? probably not.
So I went through the published speech a second and a third time today, noticing its structure, its language , its argumentation, its intended messages, its audiences. It is a very interesting read that I believe gives a clear idea about the party and its world-view.
Roughly, one fourth of the speech is dedicated to what I call martyrology. It is undeniably the most interesting part of the address because it clearly states the party’s values and its narratives. And judging from the reaction it had on the audience, it seems to be pushing every button. I am quite amazed the press hardly mentioned this section of the speech.
November 11th is for Hezbollah Martyr’s day, a day to commemorate the “martyrdrom” of Ahmad Kassir, its first suicide bomber. He exploded himself in the Israeli army’s headquarters in Tyre on that day in 1982. For years no one knew his name, no one claimed responsibility for the operation: it was to protect the martyr’s family he said before drawing up the moral portrait of Ahmad Kassir. He gave absolutely no real biographical information about the person, he only spoke of his character and the symbol he represented. He sketched out the portrait of a hero, of the embodiment of what he considers to be the highest values (purity, faith, sacrifice) in such a way anyone could identify himself with him. On the individual level, the martyr’s whole life is directed to “martyrdom”. It’s not an act that is imposed on him, he is no victim in any way. It’s an act he “naturally” chooses to accomplish. By talking about the martyr’s family (and the care Hezbollah gives to them), Hassan Nasrallah showed the other aspect of martyrdom, the social one (and in some way the economical one). Not only did he mention the martyr’s family but also the institution that is aimed at helping them. And while doing so, he sketched the structure of a sort of spiritual family of martyrs with various Shiite figures in it.
Surprisingly enough, there is no direct reference to the three religious figures of martyrdom in the Shiite tradition. This is probably because the speech is addressed to a larger audience comprised of non-Shiite Muslims. But I’m sure that public present in the stadium and watching Nasrallah on the telly could fill in the blanks; the talk about contemporary martyrs would resonate in their heads and remind them on this historic and religious dimensions of matrydom .
Although Lebanon has become of late the land of martyrs, with each political group continuously commemorating its martyrs in every way possible, it’s easy from this speech to realise how different Hezbollah matyrology is from the others. They have managed to intertwine so many dimensions of this act: the religious, the political, the moral, the military, the personal, the social, the structural, the institutional, the economical, the democratic.