In Beirut, members of the Moslem Shi-ite community, have been continuing their protests over the disappearance of their spiritual head, Imam Musa al Sadr.
In Beirut, members of the Moslem Shi-ite community, have been continuing their protests over the disappearance of their spiritual head, Imam Musa al Sadr. The 50-year old Imam visited the Libyan Jamahiriyah on 25 August as a guest of the government for the celebrations marking the anniversary of colonel Gaddaffi's revolution. The Libyan authorities say the Imam and his party left the country six days later, but there has been no news him since.
SYNOPSIS: The latest protest was staged outside one of the United Nations offices in Beirut. Members of the Shi-ites have been on hunger strike in protest against the Lebanese government's failure to trace the Imam. In the city there is a growing belief that the Imam is still in Libya.
Imam Musa al Sadr was the spiritual head of nearly a million Lebanese Shi-ites for ten years. His disappearance has placed a strain on relations between members of his Moslem sect, and the Libyan authorities. The Libyan Jamahiriyah is predominantly a Sunni Moslem country, and there are fears that friction could spread between the Sunni and Shia communities within Lebanon. However, so far both communities have been united in public demonstrations of concern over the Imam's disappearance.
This latest protest is part of a concerted campaign to gain the attention of the Lebanese government. Earlier this month, Beirut's Moslem community staged a general strike. Now protesting outside one of the United Nations buildings, the group are reinforcing their demands for an international inquiry. Because the Libyan Jamahiriyah has supported the Moslem Left and the Palestinians in the Lebanese conflict, many of the leaders of the Moslem community have been unwilling to accuse the Libyans openly of being behind their leader's disappearance. One view is that the Libyan Jamahiriyah and the Shi-ites have both been the victims of a conspiracy. But in spite of the protests, and the removal of some of the hunger strikers to hospital, there has been no end to the mystery. Meanwhile the Moslem community has repeated almost daily its call to the whole Arab world to exert maximum effort to locate the Imam.