News / Middle East

Lebanese Ex-Minister Buried to Anti-Hezbollah Chants

Omar Chatah, son of former Lebanese minister Mohamad Chatah, who was killed in a bomb blast on Friday, stands next to his father's coffin during his mass funeral at al-Amin mosque in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Dec. 29, 2013.Omar Chatah, son of former Lebanese minister Mohamad Chatah, who was killed in a bomb blast on Friday, stands next to his father's coffin during his mass funeral at al-Amin mosque in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Dec. 29, 2013.
x
Omar Chatah, son of former Lebanese minister Mohamad Chatah, who was killed in a bomb blast on Friday, stands next to his father's coffin during his mass funeral at al-Amin mosque in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Dec. 29, 2013.
Omar Chatah, son of former Lebanese minister Mohamad Chatah, who was killed in a bomb blast on Friday, stands next to his father's coffin during his mass funeral at al-Amin mosque in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut, Dec. 29, 2013.
Reuters
Mourners chanting anti-Hezbollah slogans laid to rest former Lebanese minister Mohamad Chatah on Sunday after he was killed by a car bomb his allies blame on the powerful Shi'ite group.
    
Friday's attack on Chatah, a Sunni who was a vocal critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Lebanese ally Hezbollah, has once again stoked sectarian enmities exacerbated by the spillover of Syria's conflict.
    
"There is no God but God and Hezbollah is the enemy of God," mourners chanted as Chatah's coffin - draped in green and gold cloth - was carried to a central Beirut mosque.
    
No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing which killed Chatah and six others. It was the latest in a series of attacks on both sides of the divide in Lebanon, where the government is paralyzed by a standoff along sectarian lines.
    
Chatah's Future movement and other Sunni groups support the largely Sunni Muslim rebel movement fighting to topple Assad. Iranian-backed Hezbollah has sent its fighters to help Assad, who is from the Alawite offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
    
The burial of Chatah reflected Lebanon's tensions.
    
He was laid to rest alongside Sunni statesman Rafik Hariri, killed in a 2005 bombing just a few hundred meters (yards) from the site of the Chatah attack.
    
Addressing the cheering crowd, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora made what mourners took to be a reference to a coming political showdown with Hezbollah, pledging peaceful action to "liberate the nation from occupation through weapons."
    
Hezbollah is the only group that kept its weapons after Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war, saying they were needed for defense against Israel, but it has also become one of Lebanon's most powerful political forces.
    
'Martyr of moderation'
    
Chatah's killing, condemned by Hezbollah as a crime, would probably not trigger Sunni-Shi'ite violence, political observers said.
    
Unlike Future's leaders such as Siniora and Hariri's son Saad, whose own government was brought down by Hezbollah in 2011, Chatah was an academic and economist with no power base of his own. He had served as finance minister and as ambassador to the United States.
    
Posters hanging over the square where he was buried – where a towering Christmas tree stood next to Beirut's largest mosque - showed Chatah's face beside a red and white Lebanese flag with the words "Martyr of Moderation".
    
Michael Young, opinion editor of the local Daily Star newspaper, described the killing as a low-risk strike at Sunni groups blamed for recent car bombs that targeted the Iranian embassy and Shi'ite districts run by Hezbollah.
    
"They chose a target whose death wouldn't provoke violence," he said.
    
The killing also carried particular symbolism three weeks before a Western-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon, based in The Hague, begins the trial in absentia of five Hezbollah suspects accused of killing Rafik al-Hariri. Both Hezbollah and Syria denied accusations made in a U.N. investigation that they were behind the assassination.
    
The site of the bombing in which Chatah died, a part of the city rebuilt by Hariri after Lebanon's war, was itself meant to send a message, analyst Rami Khouri said.
    
"People will see this as a sign this violence can now happen in the heart of Hariri land just like it was happening in the heart of Hezbollah land before," he said. "Any target is now permissible in any part of the country."
    
Lebanon has been under a caretaker government since March and sectarian-fueled political squabbles have made it impossible to form a new one.
    
Hezbollah officials fear Future and its political bloc, known as March 14, are getting support from President Michel Suleiman, a Christian, to form a government which would exclude the Shi'ite group.
    
"This would be a confrontational government that would bear no resemblance to the national unity government that we have been calling for," one Hezbollah official said.

You May Like

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Paradei
X
Anush Avetisyan
November 26, 2014 10:57 PM
Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid