CAIRO — Arab bloggers - as well as Arab states - are divided over their support or censure of Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah. Chat rooms and forums show mixed reactions on the current fighting in Lebanon and Israel. The ‘Electronic Lebanon’ website - created by the bloggers behind ‘Electronic Intifada, a site on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - [has been visited by 270,000 people since June 27th] and posts reports from the Lebanese.
“My entire life has changed only because someone decided that it could change: Who gave them the right to do that?” complains Zena el-Khalil.
Bilal, another web surfer, supports the cause of Hezbollah while a Lebanese blogger nicknamed Miss Levantine said she had initially thought the conflict would only last a couple of days. “I was convinced that the United Nations and world powers would have stopped the bombings,” she writes, blaming the conflict on both the Lebanese guerrilla and Israel.
The author of another blog - ‘Beirut Spring’ - writes about all the rallies worldwide calling for an immediate ceasefire.
The most popular blogs are the ones posting pictures of Beirut on fire and online diaries like one by Bassel Haddad of Beirut who says “it is incredible to watch al Jazeera and al Arabiya and see the same scenes I can look at from my balcony.”
Egyptian activists, some of whom are supporting Hezbollah, are trying to organize a rally in Cairo on Wednesday in front of the Lebanese embassy as a sign of solidarity. Among them is Alaa, a famous blogger who has just been released from jail.
Overall, though bloggers are divided over their support or condemnation of the Shiite militant group, many are trying to retain their sense of humour despite the crisis.
A blog replicated a commercial of a credit card but posted instead a number of pictures including one of Arab League leader Amr Moussa after an emergency meeting of the League to discuss the Middle Eastern crisis. “Chance to see Arab leadership for the impotent cowards they are: priceless,” the blog reads beside the picture. “Some things in life money can’t buy, for everything else there is” and then the website cites the name of the credit card.
Another blog suggested “Hezbollah, which is mostly responsible for what is going on, should contribute tomorrow to reconstruction expenses in Lebanon, perhaps by appearing in commercials of some major multination.” An image of the guerrilla’s flag appears beside this sentence, though the image has been changed and includes the symbol of a sports company and its slogan: “Just do it.”
Original: Middle East: Bloggers Divide over Hezbollah, AKI (18 July 2006)