Those of you who lived the Lebanese civil war might recall being stopped at checkpoints and asked about your religion. Many Lebanese were kidnapped or killed because they were born Christian or Muslim, or because their IDs reflected their religion. The Lebanese government has since removed religious affiliation from national ID cards, though sectarian tension never really went away.
An-Nahar today reported the story of a young Shia man who was stopped by a few Taliban-style extremist gunmen in Tariq Jdideh in Beirut on his way to visit relatives in the southern suburb. According to Ihab al-Izzi, he was asked about his sect. When he answered "Lebanese", one "long-bearded" militant noticed a necklace with an Imam Ali sword dangling from his neck, snatched it and took turns stepping on it along with the other militants.
"Then I was approached by someone wearing Afghan-style clothes, who pulled a long sword and started to want to cut my head off. I screamed 'no, not my head, don't kill me'. When I lifted my left hand to shield my head, he struck my hand and fled with his companions and left me bleeding..."
Ihab lost fingers but also his faith in the Lebanese army, stationed some 150 metres away and watching the episode. According to al-Izzi, the soldiers did not respond to his calls for help.
During the investigation at the hospital that finally accepted to admit him, he was told by the investigator that the army soldiers had "orders not to intervene".
Just on Monday, the army command vowed to "stop security breaches and maintain civil order", deploying troops to areas in Beirut and Tripoli.
It remains to be seen if this includes intervention to stop this Taliban-style justice from spreading in the country.
Photo courtesy of An-Nahar.
Update. I guess this story ruffled some feathers in Lebanon. Future TV is claiming army intelligence arrested al-Izzi on charges of fabricating the story and is currently interrogating him. An-Nahar is also retracting the story.
The reported motive: to get free medical treatment for injuries sustained in a fight in the southern suburb.
It's quite an elaborate tale to make up and then talk to a reporter about, but what do I know?
Update 2. Future TV is spinning this as March 8 propaganda that An-Nahar fell for.