Lokman Slim‘s memorial service on Thursday sparked extreme controversy in Lebanon as political partisans began criticizing religious figures for praying for him.
Immediately after attending the funeral, a Hezbollah-affiliated Shia cleric issued a public apology stating that he shouldn’t have been at the service and that he had no idea whose funeral it was.
“I was surprised by the cameras,” he said in a video that began circulating on social media. Responding to a slander campaign against him, he urged people to stop talking about him and drop the subject and insisted on his allegiance to Hezbollah.
The criticism didn’t stop there, however. Some members of the Free Patriotic Movement are also condemning a priest for the way a Christian prayer was recited for Slim.
Supported by other FPM tweeters, a prominent FPM party member on Twitter even called on the priest to apologize otherwise be held accountable for “insulting the essence of the Christian faith.”
In response, caretaker Justice Minister Marie-Claude Najm slammed the critics saying:
“When a sheikh is reduced to apologizing for praying for a dead soul, and when the diocese is forced to deny any connection with a priest in a funeral, Lebanon loses its identity and its role in the East.”
She hashtagged her tweet with the famous labeling of Lebanon by Pope Jean-Paul II when he called it “Lebanon A Message” for its multi-religious formation and coexistence.
With political sectarianism struggling to survive the awakening of the nation against it, these two new incidents, although shocking, are mere attempts to shamefully politicize religious prayers to serve certain political groups.
Lokman Slim, widely loved even beyond Lebanon, was a threat to political sectarianism by simply being who he was of highly intellectual and consciously evolved, relentlessly working for the unity and freedom of the people of Lebanon.
He was assassinated last week for the same reason of being who he was, and his killers are still at large. There is little hope that justice will be served, like previous murders that remain to-date recorded mysteries in Lebanon’s history.