Wiam Wahhab is the leader of the Tawhid Movement in Lebanon. A former MP and journalist, he is also a close ally of Syria. In a rant against Syria’s rival, Saudi Arabia, Wahhab compared Saudi women to “garbage bags,” in reference to the black niqab that is common in the country. Sparking the anger of protesters, Wahhab eventually retracted his statements, clarifying that his comments were not meant to insult the veil, but rather the lack of human rights afforded to women in Saudi Arabia.
While a follower of the Druze sect, Wahhab is still supported by Hezbollah. Therefore, this really isn’t a case of religious hatred as much as it is a case about politics. Wahhab has a reputation for being an unapologetic advocate for Syria. Therefore, it is not surprising that within the same speech, he also made attacks on the Wahhabi way of life, which is mostly tied to Saudi Arabia. His comments were in reference to a major anti-Hezbollah rally organised by the March 14th coalition, a pro-Saudi group. Thus, in light of Wahhab’s relationship with Hezbollah and Syria, his comments were not actually a comment on Muslim women, but rather a part of his own political agenda.
On the other side, those opposed to Wahhab used this opportunity to be outraged in support of the right of to wear a veil. Over 500 Sunni protesters in Tripoli gathered to express their outrage, and many organizations called for him to retract his statements. [Read more...]