A growing number of Shi’ites are expressing discontent with Hezbollah’s policies. Many fear for their futures as Hezbollah’s ally, Syria’s Assad regime, appears on the edge of collapse. Their emerging criticism comes amid efforts to end its dominance, along with the Amal party, over the country’s Shi’ite community.
Rida Mawla, a Shi’ite activist from the Beqaa village of Hermal, is using the internet to criticize Hezbollah’s dominance. In this virtual world, where anonymity is possible, he became active on social media sites in order to advocate liberal and secular ideologies.
“It’s time to express our concerns that are not associated with Hezbollah’s policies,” said Mawla.
Grassroots initiatives that are free from traditional politics and regional influence are presenting themselves as an alternative in Lebanon. Malek Mrouweh, a founder of "the civil society coalition", says such initiatives have sprung up mainly within the Shi’ite community. They hope to influence the 2012 legislative election in Lebanon, pressuring for change after last Arab spring emerged last year.
“The civil society collation” is a new gathering that emerged from within the Shiite community last October to address its concerns and fears and eventually to face national challenges,” said Mrouweh.
Numerous Lebanese people, who supported Hezbollah because it resisted Israeli incursions, now, see the events in Syria as a valid revolution, rather than a conspiracy against this resistance. Prominent cleric Hani Fahes has invited Shi’ites to offer shelter to refugees escaping the Syrian regime's violent oppression.
“Within the Shi’ite group, there's an attempt to create a new denomination, not necessarily a third, I'd like to say a new direction that is more moderate. Less sectarian in a political point of view,” said Fahes.
“However, till now, unfortunately, this voice is still in its beginning, and we haven’t found someone to host it, but instead who is following it, so its effect has been reduced,” he added.
Progress over social media and among civil society groups appears difficult, since in the past Hezbollah has made sure to eliminate political alternatives. But the maturity and persistence of these efforts seem to be very promising.