Rima Fakih, a former Miss Michigan, whose family are Shia Muslims from Southern Lebanon, was crowned Miss USA recently, the first Arab to ever win the prize. The neocons have gone insane, among other reactions, they are being led by some Jew named Debbie Schlussel, a blogger from Michigan. There are still a lot of Jews living around Detroit. In addition, many Arabs, mostly Shia Lebanese, have moved into the same area in recent years.
No one knows whether or not Fakih sympathizes with Hezbollah, but 83% of Lebanese do at this point. That’s mostly because Lebanon has no army, and Hezbollah are the only folks really defending Lebanon from Israel at this point. Israel used to have some allies with the Lebanese Maronite Christians, but they’ve even blown that wad recently. I’d wager that even now most Lebanese Maronites don’t like Israel anymore.
The thing about Lebanon is that just about everyone hates each other. The Shia, the Sunnis of the North, the Druze and Maronites from the Center, there is no love lost with any of them, unfortunately. There are temporary alliances, but they fall apart a lot. The Greek Orthodox seem to get along with others better than the others, and they are not aligned with the Maronites in any way. The Orthodox have long lined up with Syria. Many of the first suicide bombers in Lebanon in the mid 1980’s were Greek Orthodox, often Communists or Leftists.
Fakih’s family varies. Some support Hezbollah and the more secular but still religious Shia Amal. Others are secular Shia who have no particular love for the religious parties. Some of these secular folks are even Communists. Communists are not unusual in Lebanon – there are still quite a few of them for some reason.
There is much misunderstanding about Hezbollah and Lebanon. Hezbollah is not trying to create a fundamentalist state in South Lebanon. They understand the secular nature of the multicultural Lebanese state. In interviews, Hezbollah said that they would only push for a religious state if they could get say 80-85% of Lebanese to go along with it. That day is a long ways off. Hezbollah lays off the secular Lebanese.
The beach in Beirut is full of women in bikinis and downtown Beirut is full of women in skimpy clothing. Downtown nightlife is popping, with lots of bars, drinking and even call girls. Nothing much is done to crack down on any of this, and Hezbollah could care less. Down in the South were Hezbollah holds sway, things are a bit different, but I think booze is still legal, and you don’t need to wear a hijab, though it’s preferred.
Homosexuals are beaten, it is true, but that’s about as bad as Hezbollah gets. Beaten and turned over to the cops, as homosexuality is still illegal in Lebanon and it’s pretty taboo. Gay rights groups have tried to organize, but it’s not going anywhere.
The religious leader of Hezbollah, Fadlallah, has issued some very interesting rulings lately, including one that sanctioned female masturbation, especially if the female is unmarried and has not outlet.
Keep in mind that the Shia are somewhat like Catholics in that doctrine is allowed to be continuously updated to keep with the times, as opposed to the set in stone philosophy of the Sunni, whose Christian analogy is the Protestants. Like the Protestants, the Sunni have no real head religious authorities issuing rulings. Like the Catholics, the Shia have religious leaders (Popes or Ayatollahs) whose job it is to continuously interpret doctrine in the face of changing reality.
The Ayatollahs, including Khomeini, have even allowed transsexualism, and a famous Ayatollah has had a sex change, is now a woman, and is married to another Ayatollah! Then there is the temporary marriage feint which allows for somewhat casual sex outside of marriage. A famous Iranian Islamic religious scholar, a woman, recently authored a book in which she recounted her temporary marriage affairs with 40-50 Iranians, often top Ayatollahs and religious scholars. No one much batted an eye in Iran.
Lebanon is simply a conservative Middle Eastern country, with life centered around families and extended families.