Ashura Rituals and Amal Oaths on Lebanese University Campus

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The circular has not been enforced. At the Faculty of Information, the place is wrapped in black for Ashura, while slogans for the religious occasion are everywhere and recordings mourning Hussein can be heard in every corner. (Photo: Archive - Alia Haju)

By: Eva Shoufi

Published Thursday, November 14, 2013

A few weeks ago, students affiliated with the Amal movement read the oath of Sayyid Moussa al-Sadr on the grounds of the Lebanese University campus in Hadath. More recently, students from Amal were seen commemorating the Shia religious occasion of Ashura at the Lebanese University campus near UNESCO.

These two actions violate a circular issued by the Lebanese University rector in 2007, and again in October 2012, stating, “Out of keenness on the proper running of all educational and university activities, raising partisan placards and slogans is prohibited, while no posters may be placed inside any Lebanese University building.”

The circular has not been enforced. At the Faculty of Information, the place is wrapped in black for Ashura, while slogans for the religious occasion are everywhere and recordings mourning Hussein can be heard in every corner. Amal flags greet you right and left, declaring the movement’s unequivocal dominance here. At the entrance, there is a torn Lebanese flag, with a sign nearby that reads “Lebanese University Faculty of Information and Documentation – Section I.” Were it not for the sign, a student might well think he or she is in the wrong place.

Students are divided between those who object and those who don’t mind. The objectors are powerless to do anything except accept what they say is “de facto reality.”

Zahraa said, “We will not spend our whole lives here, so let’s pass these years without any trouble.” But she criticized some practices, saying, “A few days ago, the student council cooked hrissa – a traditional Ashura dish – and played traditional mourning recordings loudly. True, they did not stop anyone from attending their classes, but what is happening on campus is not conducive to a good educational climate.”

Dana, for her part, could not suppress her anger. She said, “They cannot impose their rituals on others. This is an educational facility for citizens, not sects or political parties. It is not acceptable for the university to become a partisan office. No one pays the price except the students. It is not the Lebanese University that we are graduating from, and we now feel that the university belongs to Amal and that we are intruders.”

Razi said that this violates the Lebanese University’s laws, adding, “For a week now, one feels that he is inside an Amal office. Today, it seems we are learning inside a husseiniya [a Shia place of worship].”

On the other hand, there are those who do not see a problem. Fatima said, “Ever since we entered the university, the situation has been like this. Also, the students are not forced to attend these activities, and can attend their classes without being affected.”

Others said that the religious rituals are justified, “because the student council celebrates all festivals, including Christmas, during which a Christmas tree is placed on campus.”

At the Faculty of Law and Political Science and Administration in Hadath, things become more partisan. On 29 October 2013, students from Amal recited the oath of Amal founder Sayyid Moussa al-Sadr on campus during an introduction party. Flags and political placards were brought on campus, and the students carried them while reading the oath at the faculty’s yard, which some have described as Nabih’s Lair, in reference to Amal leader and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.

Jad, a student at the Faculty of Law, said, “I am not against politics in the university, but not in this manner, which resembles one-party rule. The issue of the oath is unacceptable, and something like this should not happen in any public institution, especially at a university that claims to be for all Lebanese.”

Rania, another student, is still shocked by the oath incident, saying, “I don’t think this has happened at any state university anywhere in the world. They don’t accommodate other people’s feelings, they think everyone agrees with them and supports them.”

Amal’s student-affairs official, Hassan Zein al-Din, said, “We, as an educational bureau, demand all deanships and departments to implement regulations and circulars issued by the rector, most notably those banning partisan and religious slogans. We are against any breach of the laws.”

“The problem is not with the students but the administration, which shows them leniency for one reason or another. Let the administration remove all slogans on the university campus and then no one would dare say anything.”

“Sometimes a violation might occur, but not as a result of a decision issued by the party. Reciting the oath was an individual act by enthusiastic students, but any partisan oath inside the university is unacceptable,” he said. Zein al-Din called on all Amal-affiliated students to adhere to the decisions of the administration.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

re: "Rania, another student, is still shocked by the oath incident, saying, “I don’t think this has happened at any state university anywhere in the world."

Hey Rania, educate and inform - it happens EVERYWHERE especially in the states that love to preach others on "demo crazy, human abuse .... and other such lofty ideals"

It gets even crazier, they will lecture you and than will tell you "you have rights but it is under over rule blah blah blah - like no questions about that one genocide
the rest never occurred
a good article to read: yes indeed why do very few know that the UK butchered 25 million Indians

The Turks haven't learned the British way of denying past atrocities

It is not illegal to discuss the millions who were killed under our empire. So why do so few people know about them?
George Monbiot
Tuesday December 27, 2005
The Guardian

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