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from issue no. 06/07 - 2010

Hezbollah: gratitude forever and ever to the Christians

Interview with Nawaf al-Mousaw by Davide Malacaria and Lorenzo Biondi

Nawaf al-Mousawi was formerly responsible for Foreign Affairs for Hezbollah. He received us in his office at the Lebanese Parliament of which he is a Member.

Nawaf al-Mousawi [© Lorenzo Biondi]

Nawaf al-Mousawi [© Lorenzo Biondi]

How did Hezbollah come into being?
NAWAF AL-MOUSAWI: In 1982, as resistance to Israeli occupation. All peoples who have suffered occupation have resisted: it’s a legal fact. At the same time we are a Lebanese political party that has made an irreversible choice for a pluralist State. For two reasons. The first because we want our country to be an example of co-existence among peoples and religions: if God had so willed, He would have given everyone the same faith. He decided on pluralism. The truth will be affirmed at the time of the Resurrection and Judgment. The second reason is that we reject a racial regime: separate government for every people and religion. We reject Zionism as a racist movement, according to UN resolution 3379.
How did your alliance with General Aoun’s party come about?
AL-MOUSAWI: Talks began in 1989 when an embargo was imposed on the Christian areas controlled by General Aoun. We refused and let food and fuel pass from our areas, helping to put an end to the blockade. We believe in good relations with our Christian partners in the country. Their role – political as well – is fundamental, but American policy sacrifices them to their own oil interests and those of Israel. The Christian blood shed in the Middle East is their responsibility: in Iraq, in Palestine and, in part, in Lebanon. In Iraq, Shi’ites aspire to live in peace with the Christians, Syria is the first refuge for displaced Iraqi Christians... We call on Europe to save the Christians from the dangers caused them by American policy.
During the last war, the Christian community helped the Muslims. To what degree has that affected relations between the two communities?
AL-MOUSAWI: Very much so, our gratitude will last forever and ever. An example: many Shi’ite families found shelter in Jazzin, a Christian town. When thanked for their help, the locals said: “We have only returned the favor your ancestors did us in the nineteenth century in our time of need...”. Two centuries later the memory was still there... I’m confident that the Shia will keep this memory for well over two centuries. Sayyid Hassan Nasrallah is a religious man. Every day in his prayers he remembers General Aoun, Suleiman Franjieh and Émile Lahoud, three Christian leaders. Nasrallah always says that on the Day of Judgment he will pray the Lord for them. It seems a miracle, but in Lebanon it is normal to pray for men of different faiths.
Has the alliance with a Christian party influenced your relations with the Lebanese Christians?
AL-MOUSAWI: Christendom should thank General Aoun for centuries, for the credit he gained the Christians by helping Muslims in the last war. Unlike the Lebanese Forces christian movement which since the ’eighties has been on Israel’s side: a stance that has distorted the image of all Christendom in the Middle East. In 1997 John Paul II asked Christians to be an integrating part of the Arab world: there is no integration finer than solidarity in a moment of danger.
In a context of detente in the Middle East can Hezbollah give up its weapons?
AL-MOUSAWI: The tension in the Middle East is the result of Israeli aggression. If it ends there will be no reason for bearing arms. The resistance is a reaction against the occupation of Lebanese territories, of the Golan and of Palestine. Palestine must become a democratic and pluralist state, in the territory of historic Palestine.

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