Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General, Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, on March 13, 2020, devoted almost exclusively to the global health crisis caused by Covid-19 and the measures that each individual must take to protect himself and others.
When this speech was delivered, there were 124 Covid-19 cases and 3 deaths in Lebanon; on April 12th, 630 cases & 20 deaths were accounted for.
[…] Among the priority topics I’m going to touch on, which are of concern to the world at this stage, the first is that of the Coronavirus. The fundamental struggle in which everyone is engaged today, not only Lebanon and the peoples of our region, and which occupies the minds of all, from the country in which it (apparently) started (China) to everyone else. I mean the battle against what is now called the Coronavirus pandemic. Today, in the countries of our region —Western Asia (as Khamenei calls it) or the Middle East—, in Europe, in the United States, this is the first and essential question which eclipses all the others. I will talk about this problem.
Naturally, I will not dwell on the specific questions reserved for specialists in the scientific and medical field, whether within the Ministry of Health, at the level of doctors, WHO, etc., and therefore, everything you have heard and everything they have said in the past few days and weeks (about barrier gestures, social distancing and confinement, etc.), I will not go back to it nor repeat it. But I want to embark on the same path by approaching this enormous and major development, in order to determine its framework and the responsibilities of everyone in this regard, including ours.
Coronavirus is a mortal enemy to all mankind
First, we must consider ourselves at the heart of a battle, whether it be Lebanon or the whole region. Today, it is no longer a battle limited to one (or more) country, but it is a world war. A global battle waged by all countries & peoples of the world. This is the every government’s priority to act upon and the concern of people all over the world.
We must consider ourselves at the heart of a battle and wage that battle. This is something very important to understand the subject and approach it as it should, and find the appropriate solution. In this battle, there is an enemy, and there are (potential) targets. And all those who are threatened (namely the entire world population) must face this enemy.
In any battle —because we must take advantage of the experience of Hezbollah, of all the Resistance movements and of all the wars in the world—, the enemy must be clearly identified and known. The problem in this battle is that the enemy, who is called the new coronavirus, remains largely unknown in the world, most of its aspects are still unknown (to the scientific community). So far, research & analysis are in progress, and we are still trying to decode the formula of this virus and unlock its secrets, and we wonder how to create a remedy, a vaccine, a solution, etc. This enemy therefore remains fundamentally unknown in its specificities, but its dangers have largely become clear to everyone in the past few weeks. It poses a considerable threat to the whole world.
What is the threat that the coronavirus poses to us? It is deadly for individuals, and can end their lives. Certain enemies (like Israel) can destroy our homes, burn our agricultural fields, represent a security danger, wage a psychological war to destabilize us, etc. But there, the danger is different: this enemy wants to kill us and kill many people. And its threat does not only weigh on a village, a city, a country, or even on a single continent: it extends to the whole world, to the whole terrestrial globe. And this enemy does not stop in front of any number: neither the hundreds, nor the thousands, nor the tens of thousands, nor the millions (this virus can infect absolutely everyone). Today, some American media are considering colossal statistics, speaking of tens of millions of potentially infected people, from 160 to 225 million (figures from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention quoted by the New York Times). These statistics relate only to the United States (and suggest the risk of more than a million deaths).
Consequently, we are faced with an enemy whose threat is clear, considerable and universal. I say this because we must know the enemy in all its truth, and the truth of the threat it poses to us, in order to be able to assume our responsibilities and face them. I am not saying this to encourage surrender, fear or terror, or psychosis, this term that we use so much, even here in Lebanon, and on which there is debate (because in Lebanon, we are divided over everything).
In any case, the most dangerous thing about this threat is that it does not only weigh on the economy, on school years (that get interrupted) or different aspects of life. As I said, it is a threat to life itself (it’s a matter of life and death). And there’s nothing more important than people’s lives, than staying alive, healthy, safe and sound. This is the priority, or at least it must be the priority, as I will speak about when I mention the objective which must be ours. Because everything can be recovered: we can recover a school year, we can compensate for an economic decline, everything can be recovered. But as for those who lose their lives, our dear ones whom we lose and who leave this terrestrial world, it’s over for them: they will not come back, and we have lost them forever.
Therefore, this is the enemy and this is the threat.
Faced with this threat, and faced with this enemy, what should be our decision? We must decide to fight! It is obvious. Perhaps some will say that I say platitudes. But in our country and in many places in the world, there is debate on the most obvious things. For example, when the Israeli enemy attacked Lebanon, invading and occupying our territory, grabbing our waters, our skies and our sovereignty to satisfy its appetites, the evidence of the Resistance was a (bitterly) disputed subject. The same goes for the coronavirus: the choice must be that of the Resistance against this aggressor and invading enemy who threatens us, who occupies (always more territories and contaminates more and more people) and has become a global epidemic. Above all, you must not surrender, despair or feel defeated (in advance) and helpless or incapable of acting, or underestimate this danger, in any case. We must resolutely decide to face and fight (this virus), to fight this battle and assume our responsibilities, with a victorious morale.
Third, when we talk about this fight or this responsibility, (the meaning of) responsibility must be global and universal. If I consider the example of Lebanon (but my point is valid for the whole world), the responsibility lies with the State in all its instances: the Presidents (of the Republic, of the Council of Ministers and of the Parliament) , the government in all its ministries, and not only the Ministry of Health, which is responsible for only one aspect of this battle, but all the ministries are concerned, as well as Justice, the Parliament, the army, the security forces, the towns and cities… Everything that is part of the State and its institutions & bodies must assume this responsibility. All the Lebanese people must also assume this responsibility, be it adults, the youngest, in all regions. Likewise, all non-Lebanese who are on Lebanese territory, whether Palestinian refugees, displaced Syrians and other residents, whether Arab or not. Anyone on Lebanese territory must participate in this fight and assume their share of responsibility, of course to the extent of their means and what is required of them. And it turns out that in this battle, absolutely everyone has specific tasks to accomplish, a role to play. This battle is global, and requires all the efforts of each and the participation of all individuals, who must all assume one or more responsibilities. In this respect, the responsibilities of each are not the same as for political or military battles. In the military battle, responsibility rests with some of us, and others are dispensed from it, as in the political battle. But in this battle, everyone is responsible, and everyone has an (important) function and role to play.
Naturally, just as in military confrontations, the army and the security forces are at the forefront, just like, for the operations of the Resistance, the mujahideen and combatants are on the front line, as is the case for political or military battles, where leading political figures and field commanders are at the forefront; so here, in this type of battle (against a virus), the Ministry of Health and the other ministries concerned, public and private hospitals, doctors, nurses, anyone working in health, care and ambulances will be on the front line in this battle. And we must see them as front-line officers, soldiers and Resistance fighters, and behave with them as we should on the moral and psychological fronts. I will come back to this point. Therefore, everyone has a responsibility to take on in this battle.
Setting the right goals for this national battle
The next point is the goal of the battle: what should our goal be? If today we say that we are at the heart of the battle, what is the goal we must reach in this battle? We must know it throughout our actions (in order to reach out to it and realize it). Setting a goal and knowing it helps us to plan our actions, to establish action programs, to set up the best mutual assistance methods, to evaluate the different steps to be implemented, to know whether they are effective or not; it helps to evaluate if we approach our goals and are on the road to success, or on the contrary if we stray from them, lose ground and fail. What should be our goal?
Until the world finds out… Now, if Lebanese scientists and Lebanese authorities can participate, that would be excellent. Until the world discovers a vaccine, a cure for this pandemic, this ailment, until we reach this stage, the objective must be to stop the spread of this epidemic, to prevent it from progress, to limit human losses as much as possible… For example, instead of having 100 dead, if the least significant number of victims that can be reached is 20, we should have only 20 victims and not 100. We must first limit human loss, because as I said, everything else can be compensated, recovered (later), whether education, school year, the economy, commerce, industry… Even if in Lebanon, we are (in any case) not very developed in these fields. But whatever it is, anything that, apart from human life, is of value, we can compensate for it one day or another. The priority is to protect people, their existence, their health, their survival. This is the goal.
This objective is divided into two parts. The first part is to prevent the spread of the epidemic as much as possible, and the second part is to treat (at best) those who are infected. It is true that there is no vaccine, but there are ways to heal, to alleviate the suffering of the sick. Can this objective be achieved? Yes, we can reach it. It is not an illusory or impossible theoretical objective. It can be reached in two parts. With regard to preventing the spread of the virus, theoretically, all medical, health and specialist authorities, from the WHO to the ordinary individuals who have (alledgedly) become well-versed in the matter (because of the daily news), everyone says that thanks to a few measures that we are to repeat every day (distancing, confinement, hand washing, etc.), and that it is useless for me to repeat because I am not an expert on the subject, these measures to take, if they are scrupulously respected by every person, every individual, all the families, by the governments and the people, it is possible to prevent the propagation of this virus, or to limit it greatly. This is therefore possible both theoretically and practically, because we have the Chinese experience and its results which have been made public so far, and let’s pray God that they do not evolve (towards a revival of the epidemic). Thus, both theory and practice prove, thanks to foreign experiences, that the progression of the epidemic can be stopped.
As for the second part of the objective, namely to provide the best care for people stricken with the disease, all specialists, from WHO to all the levels below, affirm that healing is possible, and even that the healing rate is very high. Similarly, in concrete terms, according to the available data, tens of thousands of people have recovered in China, thousands more in Iran, and hundreds of people in other parts of the world, as announced (regularly). Thus, healing is possible in theory and in practice, as well as stopping the spread of the virus.
Therefore, the goal we set for this national battle is a realistic, pragmatic and achievable goal. Certainly, it requires effort, (strong) decisions, willpower, endurance, patience, efficiency, measurements, accuracy in application and responsibility.
So we have established that we are at the heart of a battle, part of a world war, because we Lebanese are not alone in fighting this fight; we talked about the enemy, its nature, its dangers and the threat it poses to all; we talked about the magnitude of the responsibilities that weigh on everyone; and we talked about the objective of the battle; as for the measures to be taken, they are repeated daily by the relevant authorities. In the context of the battle that we have just described, I must advise several things and emphasize several points.
First, in this battle, oh dear ones, we need cooperation and mutual help. We must all fight this battle with a human soul, with ethics and with patriotism. And the same is true in all other countries. It’s not unique to Lebanon, but all countries must do it: everywhere, people must help each other, be it the State, the government, the security forces, the people, the media, social networks, associations, absolutely everyone without exception must help and cooperate in this battle. And the dominant spirit has to be positive and constructive. This battle is not the proper context to settle scores, for political attacks, for revenge or to score points (against one’s opponents). I do not want to enter into any debate.
Since the first moments, there have been debates in the country, on certain points and certain choices. There is no problem with disagreements over the (best) choices (to take), but the language used (by some in Lebanon) is inappropriate, unsuitable and unjustifiable. I want to say that I don’t want to enter into a debate with anyone; I want to stay above all these (vain disputes), but I want to say that persevering in this direction (invectives, sedition, etc.) will neither achieve the desired political objectives, for those who have political objectives, and will not do anything but create more hatred, hostility and resentment between the Lebanese. Everyone must act positively and constructively. This does not mean that we cannot oppose, criticize, on the contrary: we must criticize, express our opinion, give advice, whether in the media (or elsewhere), contacting ministries, government bodies and the managers concerned, in the different positions of responsibility, this is a natural thing. No one asks others to shut their mouths. But approaching and solving these types of problems requires a soul full of ethics and humanity. Invectives have no place here, and reflect a moral failure. Negative attitudes that lead to more losses also express moral failure and a lack of national spirit. It is a spirit of mutual aid and cooperation that is required, and everyone must behave with a high sense of responsibility. Because if we start to argue and settle scores, to want to prove who was wrong and who was right (it only leads to more division and ineffectiveness). I consider it an unnecessary waste of time, and an escape from our own responsibilities.
We all know that since 1982 and up to this day, there has been a debate on the question of the Resistance; we are in 2020 (and this debate has still not been resolved). A few days ago, when several of our fighters fell martyrs in the battle of Idlib (killed by Turkish strikes), the same question was asked: what are you doing in Syria? Since 2011 and to this day, despite all our speeches, all our statements, all the debates, all our interventions on television (explaining the reason for our presence in Syria), we have achieved nothing. That’s why I don’t want to get into any debate about everything that happened. I mean that there is no problem for anyone to express their objections or criticisms, their opinion, their approach, but we must move away from any language that creates animosity, resentment, hatred, hostility and division (cf. the words of Maronite Leader of the Lebanese Forces Samir Geagea asking to quarantine the Palestinian camps).
Respecting hygiene & safety instructions is a sacred religious duty
And I hope all the more (the cooperation of all) as this coronavirus, o uncle, makes no discrimination of race, continent, region, religion, sect, party, etc. This epidemic attacks everyone, without asking anyone for anything (before hitting him). This virus respects neither the borders of races, nor those of continents, nor those of countries, nor those of nationalities, regions, religions or faiths. We are facing an exclusively humanitarian battle (without any partisan consideration whatsoever), and we must wage it with a soul full of humanity.
The second point is to confirm the humanitarian, ethical, national and legal responsibility (of everyone) in this battle and this confrontation. But what I want to add on a personal basis, since I belong to the sphere of religious sciences, and that in this respect, my point of view will be different from that of officials in government, is to insist on religious responsibility, from the point of view of Islamic law (sharia).
You see, we in Lebanon, in general, we are either Muslims or Christians. Both Muslims and Christians, even if they are not practicing, consider themselves adhering to Islam or Christianity, and all believe in God, on the Day of Judgment, on the Day of Accounts. We all believe that we will be questioned before God and be accountable for our actions. Both Muslims and Christians, according to their religion, know that God, in his heavenly teachings, commanded to preserve human life, and considered it to be of the greatest & highest value. Even in legal judgments and Islamic jurisprudence, when the need to preserve one’s property and honor is emphasized, the highest (and most compelling) stage is to preserve blood, human life, the human soul, people, their lives and their health. It is the highest echelon of duties, the most sacred, the most imperious, the most categorical. If we believe in the Day of Judgment, what I want to add to this battle is that we have a duty to fear God the Most High and the Exalted in leading this battle (against the coronavirus).
What is the practical translation of this statement? The first duty is to (do everything to) protect yourself, to protect your life and health, as well as your family and the people around you (neighbors, etc.). It is a religious, divine, legal duty. Each man, each woman, everyone is held by this primordial requirement. Everyone will be accountable for respecting this sacred duty. Anyone who fails to do this commits a sin, not a venial sin, but one of the greatest sins. This sin is one of the greatest sins. Consequently, compliance with the instructions (barrier gestures, distancing, confinement, hand washing, etc.) is not (simply) recommended, not at all.
Today you can question any high religious authority, and ours are well known: our great Ayatollahs have all issued declarations and fatwas emphasizing the duty to respect these health regulations & sanitary measures. They did not say that it was a recommended or supererogatory act that one would have the choice to respect or not, to which disobedience would be allowed, not at all. They stipulated the duty to scrupulously respect the instructions of the government and official health authorities concerned with leading this battle, especially with regard to health issues. These instructions must be observed.
This is not a legal obligation, because if someone does not comply with it, they risk nothing from the authorities, the police or the justice system. No one will be arrested or tried. This would be the earthly court. But I draw your attention to the need to fear the afterlife Court, because it is a responsibility that extends to everyone. It’s not just about practitioners or pious people. Everyone, without distinction, will have to answer this question on the Day of Judgment before God the Most High and Exalted: have you protected your life, your existence and your health, your family and their health, and the people around you (to the best of your ability), or on the contrary have you been negligent, lax, indifferent and disrespectful of health instructions? Answering this question will be very difficult, the examination will be severe and the punishment will be terrible.
Of course, if we approach this battle with such a spirit, bearing in mind the weight of our divine and religious obligations, with a spirit of responsibility before God and the conviction that He will demand from us rigorous accounts in this respect on the Day of Judgment… In this world, it is possible to escape the Courts, the security forces, the police, the accountability. So-and-so is protected in high places, so-and-so is covered, so-and-so can be hidden by loved ones, but on the Day of Judgment, no one will be able to hide or flee from divine justice. ‘Where could I run away from Your Judgment?’ (extract from a famous invocation). No one can escape the grip and the Judgment of God the Most High and the Exalted. I consider that this perspective and this religious obligation, theoretically, is one of the strongest elements that can allow victory in this battle (because Lebanese people is largely marked by religious sentiment).
This is, moreover, exactly what happened for the (Hezbollah) Resistance. The miracle accomplished by the Resistance (defeating Israel twice) is not due to its numbers, its capabilities or its experience; although all of this is very important and fundamental, the most determining element is the Gnostic soul of the Resistance, its ardent love for God, its piety, its reverential fear, its sense of responsibility (before God), that goes beyond the limits of this world and touches the afterlife, and that considers with the greatest seriousness the inevitable moment when it will be necessary to appear before God the Most High and account for our actions with regard to our (occupied) territory, our holy places (usurped), our dignity (raped), our freedom of choice, our waters, our honor and our sovereignty. This was the underlying foundation of our armed resistance. And we must enter this battle on the same basis.
And faced with this duty, there is something that certain people, in particular certain devouts who could be pushed to go one better than everybody else… This (theological) question is that of mutually exclusive priorities and obligations. When the largest religious authorities ask you to cancel the Friday prayer (normally mandatory), and even all collective prayers, it’s because there are things that count more than others (survival and health count more than religious rites), and everything that is not a priority, it must be put aside without any embarrassment or any hesitation. And above all, do not allow yourself to be drawn into an excess of zeal (religious or in an attitude of bravado) by anyone. When Christian authorities cancel prayers in churches, they do so based on the same order of priority. Because it is a humanitarian act to which push the jurisprudence and the celestial religions, which have for vocation to preserve the life.
So that’s the second point.
Full honesty & transparency are of paramount importance, Western Leaders are lying
The third point is that in this battle, we need frankness and honesty. I will now go into details and be more specific. And this also applies to other countries. Anyone in Lebanon… I only speak of Lebanon because it is on this field that we are participating in the battle. Anyone in Lebanon who feels that he has been infected with this virus, or who exhibits symptoms of it, must declare it honestly and frankly. He must report spontaneously to the (medical) authorities concerned, (and at their request), he must go to the hospital and undergo an examination, in order to know whether he is affected or not. And he must rigorously isolate himself (in the manner that will be indicated to him), whether at home or in hospital. It is not a recommended act, O people! It is an obligation ! It is a rational and moral duty, and a religious obligation! Because if we are lax about it, if we are ashamed to admit that we have symptoms (for fear of stigma or isolation), if we say that our dignity or our political status would be affected, it is absolutely insane. It would be one of the greatest sins (and crimes) to hide such a reality, as it can lead to our deaths and the deaths of others.
One of the great authorities in the holy city of Qom, under certain specific conditions, issued this fatwa: whoever transmits the virus to another person and kills him must pay the price of the blood (compensate the relatives of the deceased). This is the magnitude of the matter, and no one should underestimate its seriousness in terms of religious responsibility.
You have to tell the truth, frankly. If the affected person is ashamed (of declaring himself sick), let their parents and relatives do so, or their colleagues, friends, etc. You must disclose your condition (to the authorities and isolate yourself). In other words, whoever is sick must say it, and anyone who is informed of anyone’s sickness has no right to keep it secret. It is forbidden to hide such a thing (because it endangers other people). Whoever he is, he must be sent to the hospital or to the relevant medical authorities for examination (and confinement). It is forbidden to be negligent in this regard. The candor must be absolute. [Compare this statement with the directives of French leaders, who tell their people that when they have symptoms, they must stay at home, and therefore contaminate their loved ones because of the impossibility of being tested, hosted in hospitals or in any structure whatsoever —hotel, etc.].
Since I follow the file closely, I want to testify to the fact that the Ministry of Health (devolved to Hezbollah) has been frank since the first day. Everything we have heard in Lebanon about the existence of people infected with the coronavirus but who have been hidden by the Ministry of Health or (as we are accused) by Hezbollah is absolutely not true, these are just lies and fabricated inventions. The first case was directly revealed by the Ministry of Health itself. And I must even say that they went too far in frankness and transparency, because they made public elements that should have remained hidden, such as the identity, name and photo of the person affected. She is a dear sister, and it would have been more worthy of keeping her identity a secret. But the candor was to this point. And all the cases that were discovered through screenings or information were reported daily. And if there have been delays in announcing certain cases, it is because the examinations were in progress, or to preserve their identity and that of their loved ones. The Ministry of Health has been doing this to this day, and must continue to do so. And I tell him that he has to continue like this no matter what the truths are, however difficult they are to say and hear. Until now, the figures remain under control (124 cases, 3 deaths), but if God forbid we reached an enormous number of sick or dead, it would be forbidden to hide any reality from the people. The whole truth must be revealed daily, as this helps to increase the sense of responsibility, the degree of preparation and the seriousness of the reactions. And people have the right to know. No one should be able to accuse the Ministry of Health or any other government body (of lying or neglect).
Naturally, this question of frankness and transparency is a big problem in the world. For example, if we consider countries described as the first world countries (most developed western capitalist countries), the great world powers or the democratic countries where freedom of the press and freedom of opinion (alledgedly) exist, what do we see ? For example, hasn’t the UK hidden the truth? The British government was neither sincere nor truthful: every day it reported 5, 10, 15 or 20 cases (at most), but yesterday it spoke of 7,000 to 10,000 cases. Do you see what (big) country it is? We in Lebanon have spoken the truth.
In the United States, Trump, until just a few days ago (March 9), posted a Tweet in which he said that last year, 37,000 people died from the common flu in the United States, and that a huge number of people were victims of it each year, in order to denigrate the alarmist remarks and to minimize the importance of the few hundred cases officially detected in the United States, with “only” a few dozen deaths. And at the end of his Tweet, he wrote ‘Think about that’. I don’t caricature things, it’s reality.
He said that despite these 37,000 deaths, the economy continued to turn (because the economy takes precedence over everything in their eyes). But the truth is that Trump is facing a disaster in the United States. His speech yesterday had very negative effects (on the markets, with the surprise announcement of the US closing to European visitors), and today he will make another speech. And at the time when he minimized the question, the governor of Ohio and the responsible for health in this province declared on CNN (I first read about this in brief or on titles from social networks that were brought to me but I didn’t believe it, because it is always necessary to check the original source since the words can be distorted, and I did not consider it as proven until I saw this person speak on television with my own eyes). She said Ohio has about 11.5 million residents, estimates that it has 100,000 people infected with coronavirus, and that the medical system would be unable to handle such an influx of people.
Who is the biggest liar? I call Trump the biggest liar. Even in this battle against the coronavirus, the biggest liar on the face of the Earth was once again proven to be Trump, with his administration, his vice-president and the team in charge of this issue. And today, the American Secretary of State (Mike Pompeo) accused, in all his arrogance and conceit, the Iranian officials to lie to their people and not to tell the truth, whereas the Iranian officials announced from the beginning the real figures, the number of dead, the number of sick and the number of cured, in a very frank and transparent manner. And it is a point of pride for Iranian officials. Unfortunately, some people in the Gulf are not ashamed, and when the Iranian Deputy Minister of Health, or people like Sayed Ali Akbar Welayati were affected by the virus, it is not because he is the Counselor of the Supreme Guide (pseudo-divine punishment?), but because he runs a hospital in Tehran which is on the front line of the fight against the coronavirus. When ministers, officials or doctors, prominent Iranian personalities are affected by this evil, it is because they have remained in the country and at their posts, and have not deserted or fled to other countries, other places where they would be safe, packing their bags and taking their families. They stayed in their country, with their people and at their posts, assuming all their responsibilities. This is a very positive point, a mark of pride for Iran.
Anyway, when this Mike Pompeo declares that the Iranian government lies to his people, his instruments in Lebanon do the same and accuse the Ministry of Health and Hezbollah of lying, of concealing the reality and of minimizing the extent of the crisis. These are lies, and you are (licensed liars)… Pompeo is a licensed liar, and I have nothing to do with his local instruments. [Laughs] My God, I said that I would not enter into any argument or debate…
Anyway, this Great Liar, the President of the Great Satan (the United States) declares at the same time that he is ready to help Iran. But first, help yourself and try to get out of your own predicament, and the catastrophe that is coming because of your administration, your arrogance, your madness, and your incompetence, your ignorance of truth and your contempt for people (including yours) and for humans, because only the dollar, the barrel of oil, gasoline and gas count in your eyes. And second, if you really wanted to help Iran, you could just lift the sanctions. Iran does not need your help. It would be enough to lift the sanctions, if only for the importation of drugs and medical equipment, which would help Iran (to cope with the crisis). In any event, it is one of the manifestations of American hypocrisy.
Therefore, frankness and transparency are essential.
The government is leading the battle, everyone must obey it and scrupulously respect self-isolation
The fourth point is the need to scrupulously respect government measures and provisions. And I’m not just talking about the Ministry of Health. If the Ministry of National Education decrees that there are no more schools, then all the schools must close. Private schools should not exempt themselves from respecting these measures on the pretext that they are private. If it is decreed that universities close, then all must close. Likewise for decisions of the Ministry of Labor and other Ministries: all the provisions decided by the government and by each of the ministries must be scrupulously respected. If it is decreed that restaurants must be closed under such and such conditions, restaurants must be closed according to these conditions (types, times, on site / take out / delivery, etc.). All these measures must be scrupulously observed and applied.
Fifth, the most important point concerning these measures, which today constitutes the decisive point to prevent the spread or at least limit it, and to put an end to any regrouping or encounter, is for everyone to impose on himself the strictest confinement or isolation. Everyone must stay at home, with his wife and children, and (as much as possible) stay there and not leave it to go anywhere. Even for prayer, my brother, you must pray at home, do not go to the mosque. What can I tell you more (to emphasize the imperative nature of confinement)? Pray at home and don’t go to church. Because I speak for Muslims and for Christians. Except for those who have no choice: for example, if someone is not going to work, he won’t have any bread to eat; if one does not go to work, he will be fired; etc. (These cases have no choice bu to go out and work). Until the Lebanese government takes the strictest measures (and prohibits work), and then (absolutely) everyone will have to respect them.
In any case, what are these measures aimed at? In truth, it is true that this evil is (very) dangerous. But it is easy to fight against it. However dangerous this virus is, it is (very) easy to deal with it. It’s as simple as that: we ask you to respect the barrier gestures, to wash your hands, to respect such sanitary measures at meals, when traveling, etc., to isolate yourself, to stop regrouping, (nothing more). It only requires a little willpower and discipline. Yes, we are suffocating, we are bored confined in our homes. But this is a war! Consider yourself at war! During the war, are we going to get some fresh air or do tourism? Are we going to ski? Are we going to barbecue by the water? In wartime, everyone takes war measures. Be reasonable, and behave responsibly; consider them as war measures.
Consequently, any type of assembly (must be prohibited). We have already talked about mosques, and I want to add all cultural, religious or political events or celebrations, all of which must be postponed. (Even) with regard to the families of martyrs, we will soon have annual commemorations, but we have all agreed (to cancel them). Forgive us and be understanding, but there will not be the least gathering, the least celebration, the least meeting, neither in the complexes, nor in the husseyniyas, nor anywhere.
Even with regard to the funerals, God forbid, if there are martyrs (from Syria, Iraq, etc.), we are not going to bother asking from any religious fatwa: we are clearly announcing that we want the bare minimum for funerals. If a person dies, may God have mercy on his soul, and if there is a martyr, may God accept his sacrifice, but there must be only a very small and modest number of family members who take part in his burial. We must end the culture which requires an entire village to participate in the funeral so as not to be ashamed in front of the family of the deceased, and for the whole village to follow the funeral procession: it is a beautiful habit of our cities and villages, but in these circumstances, it must be forgotten, because what was noble yesterday loses all its nobility and its beauty in this battle (and becomes detestable today). What is noble and beautiful is the minimum possible number of people attending the funeral, whether on the day of the funeral, the 3rd week, the 7th week, the opening of the husseyniyas and condolence ceremonies, (all these traditions must be forgotten). I am not telling you that it is a religious obligation or not, but I only hope that from now on, and until this crisis is behind us, I hope with all my heart that you will alleviate this funeral for the people and for yourselves. It should be alleviated both for families who have lost a loved one and for other people (relatives, neighborhood, …).
A few days ago, I saw on social networks that, for example, such a family had lost a loved one, and had announced themselves that they were canceling all traditional ceremonies and thanking everyone by asking God to reward (all those who wanted to attend). It’s excellent. Even the family of the deceased or the martyr must take the initiative to tell people that they should not come (attend the funeral or offer their condolences) but be content to recite Surat al-Fatiha in memory of the deceased and to pray to God for him, and that they would be grateful to them, wanting nothing more. These questions should not be overshadowed by the desire to do well, or to conform to habits & traditions. All of this must be frozen (temporarily). This is the headline, and everything else is just a detail. The absolute rule is: no groupings, no assemblies, no ceremonies, etc. People must be kept as isolated from each other as possible, and never do more than what is absolutely necessary.
For example, in some places people have left big cities to go back to their villages, but that is only a good thing if they do not mingle with anyone. If you go to a village and mingle with people and have meetings or assemblies, group meals, visits, tourism, it is very bad. If we go back to the village, we must go directly to our house and lock ourselves in! Because the virus can spread in villages as it does in cities. It is true that it spreads more in the cities because there are more people, (but it should not be propagated in the villages by negligence).
As in Iran, our coronavirus orphans must be provided for by the State
The sixth point concerns both the State and its institutions and the people in general, namely the consideration we owe to the ambulance and medical personnel. I said that they were on the front line, and in this regard, it is our duty to express gratitude to all the people who assume their jobs in this (critical) context, in particular at the Ministry of Health and the dedicated cell (for the fight against coronavirus), as well as public hospitals; but a special distinction must be made for the President Rafik Hariri Public Hospital in Beirut (which receives Lebanese Coronavirus patients [230 to date, and 4 deaths]), be it its management, doctors, nurses: we extend our thanks and congratulations to them, because they are on the front line. We must support them morally, and pray for their health and their preservation. And we must do everything that can help these staff, and also all those who work in ambulances, in all institutions —Red Cross, various medical centers for analysis and screening, all health personnel, etc.—, we must all thank them.
Likewise, I advise, recommend and propose to the Lebanese government to take exceptional measures to support these personnel. For some time now (due to the economic and financial crisis in Lebanon), they have had problems with their salaries and means of subsistence, and we must not delay any longer (to pay them) in this battle which is raging today. All other (non-medical) expenses must be delayed in favor of this (vital) one in this battle (in order to provide healthcare personnel with security in this regard).
Even more, it is not enough to give them what we owe them, and we must think of an additional gratification for their extra efforts and burdens, because the magnitude of the danger, the weight and the pressures that weigh on them is much greater than normal. We therefore thank (warmly) all these staff, and everyone must do so and give them all the due consideration, support them morally and psychologically, as well as materially and financially. We must all have great respect for them, thank them and be aware of the extent of the sacrifices they make (for the Nation).
Likewise, I hope that [Lebanon will do] what Iran has done – I don’t know what it is for other countries —even if some people in Lebanon are struck by a seizure as soon as we talk about Iran. In Iran, the Supreme Leader’s plan has been put in place, based on the suggestion of the Ministry of Health: thus, any doctor, nurse, paramedic or other medical staff who, in the exercise of their functions, would be infected by the coronavirus and die from it, is considered as a martyr of work (and of the Nation). And of course, this entails not only moral, but above all material obligations towards his family. The moral obligations are due to him, and the moral & material obligations (financial, etc.) are due to his family (in the event of death, his widow & children are provided for by the State).
I hope that in Lebanon, since we are talking about a battle (against the coronavirus), these medical personnel (and their families) will have access to these honors & (financial) rewards. As for soldiers or security forces, employees and State officials, if they are killed in the service, there are moral and material obligations of the State towards their family (widows & orphans) because they are already automatically considered as martyrs, but we must do the same with caregivers.
We should prepare for the worst, Hezbollah’s capabilities are fully mobilized
Seventh, (we should) prepare for the worst now. We all have to help each other to prevent the virus from spreading, but imagine it spreads (uncontrollably) anyway for some reason. The Ministry of Health, other ministries, institutions, the people, we all have a duty to prepare for the worst. There are countries in the world, even countries which are considered to be the most developed in the world and the best endowed in terms of health, which have requisitioned hotels and opened schools & universities (to accommodate the sick). Such measures should not be a problem or be subject to hesitation: they must be taken (right now) if only as a precaution. We must prepare the places, the equipment and the resources for a more advanced phase of the epidemic if, God forbid, we are heading for the worst. The human environment must be prepared (medical staff, volunteers, etc.): all the students (in medicine)… And we must take this opportunity to thank all the students of Lebanese universities, whether in medicine or in other disciplines, who have taken initiatives, volunteered (to help against covid-19), etc. All students of medicine, nursing, or all health professions, etc., must be mobilized as a precaution, as reservists, to assist and supply medical staff if the situation worsens. It is necessary to prepare the places of reception (of the patients), the equipment (medical and of everyday life), the human resources, for the most pessimistic scenario. We must not sit idly and cross our arms. Of course, actions are already underway, but I wanted to highlight this idea and to call for it to be deployed as much as possible.
In this regard, I must say that Hezbollah, and I am announcing it now, we make available to the State all our possibilities, and all our medical, health and other manpower, absolutely everyone, be it our combatants, our men, our women, everything we have in terms of human capacity, associations and equipment. All this is entirely at the disposal of the government and the Ministry of Health to wage the battle they are waging. They are the ones who lead this battle, the government is at the forefront and in the commanding position, and we aspire to nothing in this regard, we roll up our sleeves and we are at their service. It is the right attitude to have, because this battle is different (from the military one), and all its instruments are not in our possession but in the hands of the State. We and the others can only be a back-up force [To fight the epidemic, Hezbollah has deployed more than 20,000 people, dedicated an entire already operational hospital to covid-19, as well as four other disused hospitals currently renovated and equipped, created 32 medical centers and 3 field hospitals, and rented entire hotels for quarantine. Compare these actions with the 30 beds of the field hospital touted by Macron… while Lebanon has a population 14 times lower and 100 times less cases of covid-19 than its former colonizer, despite systematic screening!].
Eighth, we must take advantage of the experiences (and good practices) of other countries: China, Italy, Korea, Japan, Iran, and now France, Germany, Belgium, and even (why not) the United States, that should not be a problem at all. We must take advantage of the experience of other countries to save time and save our energy. We must not make the same mistakes, because time is very precious. In this battle, time is a deciding factor: every hour, every day is precious and crucial.
Ninth point, we must give absolute priority to this battle, whether on the part of the government, the State or the Lebanese people, anyone in Lebanon, the media, anyone who has influence and can make efforts must give absolute priority to this battle.
Poverty is as dangerous as the coronavirus, social solidarity & care for the needy are indispensable
Tenth, social solidarity is needed. I speak quickly, because the points I raise are clear in themselves (and consensual), and I only emphasize them as (important) points. Social solidarity (real and effective) is needed. Naturally, today, the government measures that close restaurants, tourism, etc., etc., etc., all of this implies that many people may not have enough to live on, will no longer have a salary or income. Perhaps we will create another problem: by wanting to escape from the coronavirus, we will fall into starvation, and we will endanger the security of society. Before arriving at the solutions (to settle the security problems which could arise), namely that the army, the police forces and the justice assume all their responsibilities to prevent any crack in peace and security, it is necessary first of all take preventive measures. The capacities of the State are well known, and I will rather mention the responsibilities of the people themselves in regards social solidarity. In each village, and for the cities in each district, in each family, in each place, there are people who live more at ease than others. There are people who have a lot of money, there are people who collect religious taxes (zakat, khums, which are redistributed to the poor), etc. But even regardless of religious taxes, ordinary individuals who are comfortable, who are wealthy, who are capable (should help), we must all protect each other. Families must help each other, residents of the same village must help each other, residents of the same neighborhood must help each other, etc. It started a few months ago, but the need today has become very pressing.
I want to appeal to the wealthy in all villages, in all cities, hoping that they will hear me. Where there are Hezbollah officials or clerics, I do not need to launch an appeal, because our instructions are clear and will be applied imperatively, but all must consider it part of their job to make sure about the well-being of all the families in the proximity of their field of responsibility, because over time, some may not even have a single loaf of bread, will not find enough to feed themselves or obtain the essentials products of a decent life. We must do everything in our power, we must help each other and be united, make donations, (defer payments of rents or debts), etc. This should be seen as everyone’s responsibility.
Likewise, the government must do the right thing in this regard. It is not enough to impose closure upon closure. Some are in a hurry to see a state of emergency declared. I am clearly announcing that at any time the Lebanese government sees it in the national interest to declare a state of emergency, let no one consider that Hezbollah would oppose it, you are free to do so at any time ( and we will respect it). It is you, the Lebanese government, who lead the battle, via the Presidents (of the Republic, of the Council of Ministers and of the Parliament) and the ministers, under the tutelage of His Excellency the President of the Republic, of the President of the Parliament and all State institutions. When you feel it is time to declare a state of emergency in Lebanon, it is your (exclusive) responsibility and you should do it (without hesitation), without paying attention to anyone. But until this moment arrives, and even once it arrives, when the government decrees the closing of such and such branch (education, restaurants, etc.), it is also necessary to look for an alternative, because there are people who will find themselves without salary, without means of subsistence. We are well aware that in Lebanon, there are many people who, if they do not work on a given day, do not have enough to buy food for that day. This problem is part of the battle. It’s not just about hospitals, drugs, etc. This issue is part of the battle. If we remedy the first aspect (medical and health) but ignore the other aspect (social, salary, etc.), we will not only lose the security of our society (violence, delinquency, riots, etc.), but even the first aspect, the battle against the spread of the virus, will be lost.
In this regard, I have been following closely the issue in recent days, and I saw that in many countries of the world, banks and (private) finance have announced to their governments that they are ready to help, because they have huge sums of money at their disposal, deposits, etc., and they declared themselves ready to help; not to make loans at high interest rates [Laughs], but to help governments, the health sector, in order to give them the means to deal with this meteoric and insatiable epidemic. I call on Lebanese financial institutions to act with the same sense of responsibility. We all know that the State budget is in a difficult situation. Private interests in Lebanon have absolutely colossal sums of money, and since 1993 have amassed astronomical gains, in the tens of billions of dollars, and you now have the duty to assume this responsibility, on a voluntary basis. If there is to be a requisition, a forcible seizure of funds by decree, it is the business of the government and of Parliament (to vote it & enact it). But as a Lebanese citizen, I address Lebanese private interests, in particular the financial and banking sector, and I tell them that they are the first who have the duty to extend a helping hand to the Lebanese government, to the finances of the Lebanese State, to the health sector as well as to social solidarity, so that the people can endure, persevere and the country can emerge victorious from this battle.
Faith and patience are our best weapons against the coronavirus
My last point with regard to the coronavirus —I don’t have many other points to mention, I have two left before the conclusion, and the second will be brief. My final point regarding coronavirus, and the most important one to me, is that by launching this battle (against the disease), oh people, oh my beloveds ones, we must be armed with faith, faith in God the Most High and the Exalted. God the Benevolent, God the Merciful, God the Capable, God who holds in His hands the Kingdom of Heaven and Earth, God the Almighty. This faith must be present with strength in our minds, in our hearts and in our souls throughout this battle, as must be the cases in all battles. And we must take refuge in God the Most High and Exalted, Call him to help, ask Him for protection and ardently seek His presence. We must invoke Him to help us, give us the means and guide us.
This battle requires patience, determination, endurance, hope ; we must not despair. It takes persistence, willpower, resolve. And it is God who gives us all this. This battle needs guidance, including the guidance of scholars (in Islamic sciences), scientists, doctors, international centers of expertise and research. It is possible that even after 1 or 2 months, or even 1 or 2 years, they do not achieve any result (by finding a vaccine or drug), and it is God who can guide them and teach them (what they ignore). It is God who can open the closed doors to them. You have to appeal to God the Almighty and Most High and have faith in Him, and that must be our most powerful and constant weapon in this battle.
Listen to me, oh my brothers and sisters, oh people: the greatest danger in any battle, be it political, military, and even in the arena of health and medecine, is when one of the two belligerents on the battlefront is affected by fear, terror, the feeling of helplessness, weakness, dead end, despair. When the defeatist mentality takes hold of us, everything is ruined, even when we speak of a powerful army, even if it has nuclear weapons, even if its capabilities are colossal. Because the basis is here (in the heart, the inner self).
Today, scaring people, inspiring them with terror, giving them the impression that we are facing an insurmountable pandemic, to which no remedy can be found and no success be obtained, and in the face of which we must admit defeat, giving up and moping, doing this is a real disaster, and it is even a crime. This crime is perhaps as serious as that of sowing corruption on Earth (one of the greatest sins in Islam). Anyone who speaks, comments or writes on social media should be particularly vigilant about the fact that scaring people, terrorizing them, spreading lies, spreading defeatist spirit, despair, discouragement, weakness, etc., this leads to defeat and to our loss. We have to overcome this crisis.
You have to consider yourself at war. Even in the face of death… Suppose this disease was isolated in hospitals only and persisted there for a certain time, and as the doctors say, because so-and-so has such and such co-morbidities, whether he is of old age or otherwise, covid-19 actually causes his death. May God bring forth a good from it (in this world or in the hereafter)! “Surely you are called to die, as they are also called to die.” (Quran, 39, 30). “Every soul will taste death.” (Quran, 3, 185). We will all die one day, and if the decree has arrived for so and so, end of story!
We have a duty to do everything we can (to preserve ourselves). We must not surrender without fighting, never ever! Our religious obligation is to do everything that can protect our lives (and others’). But suppose death strikes so-and-so. May God make some good come out of it! We are satisfied with the will of God the Most High and the Exalted, and we must continue to live. Just like in war: in war, our homes are destroyed, as well as our goods and resources, our loved ones are killed, wounded, made refugees, stricken with all kinds of ills, but we hold on. When we resist, we gain the upper hand and win. But if death, injury and destruction lead to our defeat, we will have lost everything.
The same goes for this battle (against the coronavirus). It is faith that gives us this strength. (We can resist and overcome thanks) to invocations, with the request for intercession (from the Prophets and Imams), with the call to God the Most High and the Exalted. Everyone can do it in his own way, according to his beliefs, because the relationship with God is open (and can be expressed in different ways). Everyone can invoke God in the language they want, in the way they want, in whatever way they see fit. Talk to him like you talk to anyone. He hears you, He knows and understands what you are saying, He even accesses your thoughts and your heart. He knows your sincerity and your ardor. This is why we need this faith, these invocations and this strong soul. We have no right to let our resolve be shaken. We must be strong in the face of this challenge, even if the truths are difficult, we must keep trust in God.
During the various wars (fought by Hezbollah), we were told that there were 100 martyrs, 200 martyrs, 1000 martyrs, 5000 martyrs, 10.000 wounded, 100.000 houses destroyed… But we weren’t shaken. And that is why we have always been victorious. And today it’s the same thing. Whatever the losses inflicted by this epidemic, we must face it with strength and determination. The strong are those who will survive and be victorious.
I ask God the Most High and the Exalted for health and salvation for all, and to grant us victory in this battle, with His grace. […]
End of the section devoted to coronavirus. Nasrallah then evoked the economic situation of Lebanon (default on debts payment) and the acceptable tracks (exploitation of oil & gas, Chinese track, etc.) and unacceptable ones (taxation of the working classes, surrender to the IMF or to the American dictates, etc.) to recover. He then concluded with the events in Iraq.
In Iraq, the United States signed their death certificate
I want to conclude quickly, because I do not have much time, the Coronavirus having monopolized all my speech. I no longer have time to discuss the regional situation, developments in Syria, Yemen and the rest of our region, but I want to say two words on a subject that I am forbidden not to mention, namely the duty to condemn last night’s American aggression in Iraq, against barracks (of the national army), positions (of the Iraqi Resistance) and civilian installations. The Iraqi army, the Iraqi police and the Popular Mobilization Committees (Hachd al Sha’bi), which are an official entity (integrated into the national armed forces) were targeted, as well as civilian installations, such as the new Karbala airport: it is a civilian infrastructure, and in no case a military installation.
What the Americans perpetrated last night was a (flagrant) violation of Iraqi sovereignty, beyond any agreement: even if they invoke the existence of (American-Iraqi) agreements, these do not in any case allow them to bomb and destroy (anything in Irak). Basically, just to use Iraqi airspace on a temporary basis, they are required to seek permission every time from the Iraqi government. They violated all the red lines and acted with hybris, arrogance and despotism, and also driven by anger, stupidly and blindly. And in general, stupidity and blindness lead to the abyss.
The crime perpetrated by the American occupation forces yesterday in Iraq has certainly started to be punished by the appropriate responses (repeated rocket fire against American bases), and will continue to receive the appropriate responses from Iraqis, whether government, parliament, people, political parties or Iraqi Resistance fighters, from this dear noble and dignified people who refuse to live under the humiliation of the occupation and the arrogance of these despotic tyrants and these (American) devils.
We ask God to embrace the Iraqi martyrs in His Mercy, and hope that with the Grace of God, the Iraqi people, by their faith, endurance and resistance, will overcome this dangerous new challenge (successfully).
May God grant you all health and salvation. By invocations, efforts, tireless action, sincerity, honesty and mutual aid, we will cross this difficult stage and get out of this (world) war (against the Coronavirus) victorious, the head high, with the Help and Blessing of God the Most High.
May the peace of God be upon you, as well as His Mercy.
“Any amount counts, because a little money here and there, it’s like drops of water that can become rivers, seas or oceans…” Hassan Nasrallah