On Sunday night, a group of Lebanese Hezbollah supporters marched on a southern suburb of Beirut to show their rejection of a speech made by the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi, head of the Maronite Church in Lebanon.
A video clip has been circulated on social media showing Hezbollah supporters raising Iranian and Hezbollah flags in the city, chanting slogans in support of Hezbollah and boasting of the weapons it possesses.
مسيرة سيارة من حي السلم ترفع أعلام حزب الله وأمل دعماً لسلاح الحزب pic.twitter.com/2q6u84FZUE— kataeb.org (@kataeb_Ar) February 28, 2021
During a speech attended by a number of citizens, Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi had made a series of statements related to investigations being made into the Beirut Port explosion last August. He called on the Lebanese people not to be silent about the "corruption" he said was going on during the official probe.
He asked his audience to out Hezbollah as a terrorist group, to denounce Iran’s influence in the country and not to remain silent about “illegal weapons” in Lebanon. “The power of the resistance movement is that it works under the auspices of the state," he said. “There should not be two or more armies in one country, nor two peoples in one country.”
The Lebanese member of parliament Hassan Fadlallah, who belongs to the Loyalty to the Resistance Bloc – the political wing of Hezbollah – responded publicly to the speech by saying that “internationalization” constituted an “existential threat” to Lebanon.
The Secretary-General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, has previously spoken against the involvement of foreign actors in the investigation into the Beirut Port disaster. He claims that such outside involvement would harm the sovereignty of the state.
“What has internationalization done in Syria, Libya, and Iraq?" Fadlallah added. "Whoever wants to adhere to the Taif Agreement [the document signed in 1989 that formally brought an end to the Lebanese civil war] should not invite countries to Lebanon to resolve this crisis. Rather, it should start from within."
He added that Hezbollah had expected the Maronite leader’s comments would have been “handled differently”.