It always takes the death of "important" people in Lebanon to cause crises. The death, killings, assassinations of ordinary people are not even worth mentioning.
I have never heard of the Sunni cleric Ahmad Abdel Wahed until he was killed at a Lebanese Army checkpoint because he failed to stop at the checkpoint. Now the whole country is on the verge of a precipice because of his death.
For 30 years, Lebanon was seized by war, assassinations, massacres, mass killings, abductions, bombings... hundreds of thousands of ordinary civilians were killed and many more injured or maimed or disappeared... Yet, not one monument, not one statue, not one marker or memorial was ever erected to pay tribute to all these innocent people who were killed by religious fanatics or militias of all kinds.
On the other hand, it took the assassination of Rafik Hariri, a billionaire prime minister who had bought his way into the premiership, to send the country into a convulsion. Even the Lebanese people themselves were never outraged enough by their own suffering to descend into the street and demand the withdrawal of the Syrian enemy's occupation forces from Lebanon. Yet, the killing of Hariri did just that. Go to downtown Beirut and to other places across the country and
you'll see huge monuments for Rafik Hariri who, arguably, was a
collaborator with the Syrian enemy occupation until the occupier killed
And now, the killing of some otherwise unknown clergyman is causing another convulsion in Lebanon, putting the country on the precipice of another war. Rafik Hariri had bought many people and governments with his billions, so it makes sense that he be missed. But why is this Sunni cleric Ahmad Abdel Wahed important? Is he more important than you and me? Isn't any human life worth descending in the street and demonstrating for?
The answer is that in Lebanon, like many backward third world primitive countries, religion reigns supreme and defines everything. People's lives are so miserable, eking out a living in the midst of corruption, wars, pollution, congestion, militias, absence of laws... that they turn to primitive religious beliefs for consolation. As a result, ordinary people see their own lives as worthless, but the life of a religious symbol as much more important than their own that they are willing to risk the death of their own children because a cleric died. Medieval mindset where religions and feudalism run the show.
That is, by the way, the reason why Lebanon has produced many more saints than any other country in the past few decades. Even the Vatican has tired of canonizing and beatifying nuns and monks from the hills of Lebanon.
In the early decades after independence, Lebanon was steering toward a liberal secular future. Slowly and without fanfare, Lebanese society was gradually moving away from religion as the identity definer. Those were the times when the country was, incidentally, led by the Christians who tend to imitate the West in its separation between religion and matters of state. But today, the Christians have lost their prominence, and the country is led by Muslims, both Sunnis and Shiites. And the result is that since the 1980s, the country has receded into an abysmal backwardness, such that even the Christians have become more religious simply to counter the extremely religious Muslims.