More 'quality', 'objective' reporting from The Australian's Middle East correspondent, John Lyons, occasioned by Hezbollah's withdrawal from Lebanon's 'unity' government:
His headline: Lebanon ticks as fanatics walk out (15/1/11)
Lebanon is "a country that is one part rampant capitalism, one part Shia fundamentalism."
It "bounced back after Hezbollah fighters took to the streets in 2008, guns blazing, to protest against moves to shut down their private communications system."
And - shiver me timbers! - barely "an hour from the extravagance of central Beirut, one finds through the southern suburbs the medieval mindset of fundamentalist Shia Islam: sharia law is supreme, four wives are permitted for each man and many women are covered in black, not even their eyes visible."
Has Lyons made himself clear? Not since the Taliban has the world seen such a mean and ornery bunch of polygamistic, medieval, fundie-fanatics as Hezbollah and its constituents!
Only one thing though. It may keep Murdoch happy and be just what the readers of The Australian want, but that doesn't stop it from being complete and utter bullshit.
To inject a little reality here:
The women of the southern suburbs: "There are plenty of women to be seen on the streets wearing all sorts of Beirut styles, of every type. True, the muhajjabat are greater in number than they are on Hitchen's Hamra, but the fashionistas are also out in great number. And I for one have seen lower decollatage in the attire of a young woman right out in front of Fadlallah's mosque riding behind her beau on one of the ubiquitous motorscooters than I have anywhere else on the streets. In the southern neighborhoods of Beirut, women's clothing is just not a huge issue... It seems it is to Western journalists - and probably their rditors - who are absolutely obsessed with it, but not the residents of these neighborhoods." (Demonising, exoticising & domesticating the Arab world - all at once, Semi-Expert: An Arabist in Beirut, semi-expert.blogspot.com, 25/4/09)
Sharia law in the southern suburbs: Another fiction. See my 12/6/09 post When Greg Met David.
Polygamy in the southern suburbs: Hello? In Islam, any man is allowed, subject to conditions, up to 4 wives, even Lebanon's poor old Sunni Prime Minister Saad Hariri, for whom Lyons' has nothing but sympathy ("Mr Hariri had spent 14 months in one of the toughest jobs in the world...").
OK, how many wives does Hezbollah's Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah have?
One. Man, what a phony!
Surely Hezbollah's late spiritual leader, Ayatollah Sayyed Fadlallah (1935-2010), was the Warren Jeffs of Beirut's southern suburbs then: "Are you for polygamy? Polygamy has a dark as well as a bright side. As to the dark side, polygamy has a negative psychological effect on both the wife and children. But at the same time, polygamy helps in reducing illegal relationships to the bare minimum... Are you married to two women? No. I have just one wife." (Ayatollah Sayyed Fadlallah Official Website, english.bayynat.org.lb)
Hm, suppose we go further afield... to the source of the contagion, Iran. Surely, surely, Ahmadinejad's up to his neck in wives?
No, just one.
OK, what about the foaming Shia fundie-fanatic's foaming Shia fundie-fanatic, the late Ayatollah Khomeini?
Sorry, just one.
And yet, according to Murdoch's man in the Middle East, in the deep south of Beirut, they've got two hanging off each arm!