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Arabic media review

Hezbollah flexes its muscles in Beirut

Assad supporters shoot an anti-regime demonstrator dead in the Lebanese capital, and Tripoli decides to eliminate armed groups

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hezbollah supporters clash with supporters of the Lebanese Option Party during a protest in front of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, June 9, 2013 (photo credit: AP)
Hezbollah supporters clash with supporters of the Lebanese Option Party during a protest in front of the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, Sunday, June 9, 2013 (photo credit: AP)

The killing of an anti-Assad protester in Lebanon on Sunday by Hezbollah supporters at a demonstration outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut makes major headlines in Arab media Monday.

Saudi-owned daily A-Sharq Al-Awsat, featuring a photo of men dressed in black T-shirts beating the protesters with wooden clubs, reports that Hisham Salman was shot dead by the Hezbollah supporters and 11 others were injured during a quiet sit-in across from the Iranian embassy.

The daily calls the event “the first of its kind.”

Displaying a photo of female protesters in Beirut, some scantily clad, London-based daily Al-Hayat reports that blood was spilled as a result of the domestic political divisions over the participation of Hezbollah in the fighting in Lebanon.

The daily reports that the Hezbollah thugs disembarked from a bus near the anti-Assad protest carrying clubs and began beating the peaceful protesters who were carrying Lebanese flags. They also prevented journalists from approaching the area and taking pictures.

Salman, 28, was reportedly shot twice in the legs and once in the back before being beaten by the Hezbollah supporters. He died on his way to hospital, when the Lebanese army intervened and broke up the fight.

Qatari news station  Al-Jazeera reports “high alert in Beirut” following Salman’s killing. According to the station, Lebanese Army tanks and armored personnel carriers were deployed in the streets of southern Beirut, which were sealed off with barbed wire for a number of hours.

In an interview with Dubai-based news channel Al-Arabiya, Sunni Islamic scholar Youssef Qaradawi claims that jihad in Syria is a necessity, that Hezbollah does not represent “true Islam,” and that it’s in fact “the party of the devil.”

Meanwhile, Arab nationalist daily Al-Quds al-Arabi reports that a 15-year-old was summarily executed by Islamists in Aleppo before his parents after being accused of blasphemy.

The executors reportedly heard the boy — a coffee vendor — saying he would not lend a man money “even if Muhammad rose from his grave.” They dragged him away, apparently lashed him, then returned him to the original location and shot him in the head after declaring to bystanders that he was guilty of blasphemy.

Libya cracks down on militias

Leading the front page news of A-Sharq Al-Awsat is a report on a Libyan government decision taken on Sunday to forcefully “subdue” the country’s militias.

According to the daily, hundreds of militias took part in the struggle against dictator Muammar Qaddafi, but remained intact following his killing in October 2011.

Sources in the provisional Libyan parliament told A-Sharq Al-Awsat that the Benghazi incident, when armed militants attacked the American consulate killing ambassador Chris Stephens in September 2012, “shook Libyan society and exposed the danger of the militias.”

Clashes between the “Libya Shield” militia and civilians protesting against them in Benghazi left 31 people dead on Saturday, causing Libyan chief of staff Youssef Al-Manqoush to resign on Sunday.

“Little good news comes from Libya these days,” reads the editorial of Al-Quds Al-Arabi, which claims that the militias are the de facto rulers of Libya.

“The Libyan people is fed up with the deterioration of the security situation in the country and the weakness of the central government… therefore they decided to take to the streets and oppose these militias, most notably the ‘Libya Shield’ which is most powerful in Benghazi.”

“The Libyan authorities considered the Libya Shield Brigade part of its legitimate forces, relying on it to solve certain conflicts and oppose demonstrators. But they could not maintain this position, and removed its legitimacy, taking over its headquarters in response to the demand of the protesters. This takeover could possibly be only nominal, since these militias are stronger than the official army and carry heavy weapons.”

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