Fairuz. Focusing on preaching unity in Lebanon
Nasrallah. 'Can't anyone voice expressions of love here?'
For years, she made every effort to focus on singing and avoid expressing her opinion on the internal wars in Lebanon. But now, at the age of 78, widely admired Lebanese singer Fairuz has got caught in a heated argument between Hezbollah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah and his rivals.
It all began about a week ago when the singer's son, composer Ziad Rahbani, dropped a bomb when he said in an interview to Hezbollah-affiliated online Beirut daily Al-Mayadeen that his mother was a fan of Nasrallah. He defined the singer and the Hezbollah leader as "the most prominent and influential figures in Lebanon."
The son's statement stirred a political row in Lebanon, as Fairuz has been strict about not discussing the internal power struggles in the country over the years. The Arab Christian singer preferred to convey her messages in patriotic songs, in which she preached unity in Lebanon and expressed her firm support for the Palestinian struggle against Israel.
Israelis remember her song, "Al Quds" ("Jerusalem"), which swept millions around the Arab world and glorified her status.
In light of the row sparked by her son's announcement, veteran Druze leader Walid Jumblatt issued a statement pleading with both camps, the Islamist Hezbollah and supporters of the secular establishment, to leave the singer alone.
"Fairuz is the symbol of Lebanon's national heritage," he said. "Leave her in her special position and don't touch her."
Hezbollah leader Nasrallah commented on the affair in his recent address, without mentioning Fairuz's name. "I understand that no one is permitted to voice expressions of love here," he said. "If someone voices an expression of love for someone else, it immediately sparks an outrage and can lead to the destruction of the country we all love."
The declaration made by the successful singer's son created a rift within her small family as well. Her daughter, photographer and screenwriter Rima Rahbani, responded angrily to her brother's statement. "No one has the right to speak on behalf of our mother. No one is entitled to forcibly put her in places she is not interested in going into," she said.
And what about Fairuz herself? She is keeping quiet, neither confirming nor denying what her son attributed to her.