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'Sorry Nasrallah!' Lebanese Shia man who insulted Hizballah leader makes humiliating apology Open in fullscreen

Robert Cusack

'Sorry Nasrallah!' Lebanese Shia man who insulted Hizballah leader makes humiliating apology

A poster of Nasrallah is handed out in Beirut [Getty]

Date of publication: 27 October, 2017

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Ali Abdo Chamas, a resident of the group's stronghold in southern Beirut, publicly insulted the leader of Hizballah on Wednesday, sparking a fierce backlash and a televised apology.

A Lebanese Shia Muslim man apologised to Hassan Nasrallah on Thursday after becoming the first person from a Hizballah stronghold to publicly criticise the group's leader on national television.

Ali Abdo Chamas offered to fight in Syria, where Hizballah is shoring up the regime of Bashar al-Assad, to atone for his actions, after he and another woman broke a taboo in their community by speaking out publicly against Nasrallah personally.

Chamas first complained about poor living conditions in Beirut's Hizballah-controlled southern suburbs before swearing at Nasrallah directly on live television on Wednesday.  He had been speaking in a television interview after the authorities closed down a number of unlicensed market stalls in his area.

Protests had broken out early after the clampdown by Hizballah caused residents to become angry, ultimately placing burning tires in the road to block the area off.

Hussein Moussaoui, a Hizballah MP in Baalbeck said the incident at Hay al-Salam had come as a shock.

"We did not expect anyone to criticise Nasrallah," he told L'Orient le Jour.

"They spoke out of hunger and poverty after their stalls were destroyed by the security forces."

The backlash against Chamas' comments was swift and strong, some of which became personal. Pro-Hizballah media outlets accused Chamas of selling drugs and suffering from drug addiction problems. The New Arab could not verify these accusations.

This pressure triggered an apology from Chamas on national television and a subsequent apology and explanation on Facebook Live.

Living conditions have severely deteriorated in Beirut's suburbs in recent months and tensions have started to rise over a relatively high death toll for Hizballah fighters in Syria.

The New York Times reported that 2000 Hizballah fighters have died in Syria since the start of 2017.

In a press conference, Hizballah said the Shia community of Lebanon must remind themselves they are not above the law and similar crackdowns on illegal businesses would happen again in the future.

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