In order to reach the populace in the Middle East, where environmental awareness has not yet reached the pinnacle necessary to combat problems such as pollution and waste, Islamic leaders have met several times to suss out religious mandates to maintain ecological integrity.
In so doing, they circumvent prevailing (western) climate science of which many lay people are suspicious, and appeal to religious sensibilities that are more likely to sway behavior. Following that tradition, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the militant Islamist movement Hezbollah has also taken up arms in defense of the environment.
Reuters reports that last Saturday, Nasrallah emerged from hiding in order to encourage his followers to plant trees and take care of their environment.
Mr. Lyon from Reuters quoted the Shi’ite leader who said that “Afforestation is part of Lebanese national security.” The news agency reports that this message was delivered in a “statesman-like” manner.
On the same day, under the auspices of Hezbollah’s reconstruction arm Jihad al-Binah, Nasrallah helped to plant the “one millionth sapling” to restore Lebanon’s forests. Between 1978 and 2000, during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon, much of the country’s forest cover was decimated. Bolstering the forest strengthens Lebanese resistance against Israel, but also prompts a healthier environmental attitude.
“We Lebanese always extol the green Lebanon,” Reuters quoted. “Of course this will soon be a thing of the past.”
Nasrallah places the importance of a healthy environment on the same pedestal as freedom of speech and religion.
“…Nasrallah delved into Islamic history, citing prophets and traditions to buttress his plea for Lebanese to plant trees outside their homes and conserve what natural beauty remains in a land blighted by rampant building and environmental neglect,” according to Mr. Lyon.
Reuters claims that by incorporating a strong “green” message, Hezbollah is attempting to assert itself as a serious political force that has added environmental stewardship to its history of civic construction.
To compensate for the country’s development incapacity, Hezbollah has built a series of clinics and schools for Shi’ite Muslims.
Whether a genuine appeal for environmental stability or a clever political ploy, Nasrallah’s new green creed may actually provide incentive to his militant followers to think twice about their natural resources.
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