Lebanon: Hezbollah politician suspends party activities over daughter’s lavish wedding

Social media users noted the contrast in lifestyle between Nawar Sahili’s family and that of ordinary Lebanese citizens

Nawar Sahili said the wedding on Saturday had been organised by his son-in-law, though in Lebanon the bride’s parents traditionally bear such expenses
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Former Hezbollah MP Nawar Sahili said he would suspend party activities after videos of his daughter’s lavish wedding appeared online.

The footage prompted sharp criticism on people on social media, who said it highlighted the disconnect between politicians’ seemingly opulent lifestyles and the poverty endured by most Lebanese citizens.

“I apologise to my people about what happened, which caused unintended offence to the party which I love and belong to,” Mr Sahili tweeted on Sunday, making an apparent reference to the Lebanese political party Hezbollah.

“Therefore, I suspend all my party activities while I wait for a decision from the leadership, and I will abide by” this decision, he said in the post.

Hezbollah wields a powerful regional militia and is branded a terrorist organisation by several countries.

Mr Sahili said the wedding on Saturday had been organised by his son-in-law, though in Lebanon the bride’s parents traditionally bear such expenses.

Videos of the opulent party went viral at the weekend. Wearing a sleeveless white wedding gown, Mr Sahili’s daughter can be seen dancing and drinking champagne in an opulent reception space lit by low-hanging chandeliers.

Mr Sahili appears to adjust his daughter’s bridal veil as he walks with her, hand in hand, to solemn music.

Lebanese Twitter users were prompt to criticise the opulence on display at the wedding.

“#Hezbollah is proving yet again how aloof it is to the suffering of Lebanese people. This video of the lavish wedding of their MP Nawar Sahili’s daughter, going viral in #Lebanon. No empathy whatsoever,” tweeted Mohanad Hage Ali, a research fellow at the Carnegie Middle East Centre.

Mr Sahili did not run in the last parliamentary elections in 2018 and went on to head a Hezbollah committee that works on the repatriation of Syrian refugees, a party media representative told The National on Monday.

Hezbollah’s military wing has been heavily involved in propping up the Syrian government since the start of a civil war in 2011.

Mr Sahili is not the only politician to come under fire for his disconnect with the harsh reality lived by most Lebanese. Videos and pictures of the wedding of the daughter of prominent MP Ibrahim Kanaan also circulated online at the weekend.

Lebanese politicians are routinely shamed in person and on social media since the start of the country’s worst economic crisis in mid-2019.

Local media reported in June that a woman who insulted MP Gebran Bassil in a restaurant north of Beirut was then assaulted by his bodyguards. Mr Bassil leads the Free Patriotic Movement party and is the son-in-law of President Michel Aoun.

Anti-government protests have decreased in Lebanon since a surge in late 2019 but still occur.

Politicians remain unable to agree on how to tackle the worsening economic crisis, widely believed to have been caused by corruption and mismanagement of the country’s finances since the end in 1990 of the country’s 15-year civil war.

Lebanon’s political crisis was compounded by a deadly explosion at Beirut’s port last August, which increased public anger against the Lebanese ruling class.

Politicians have closed ranks to push back against attempts by an investigative judge to interrogate former MPs and ministers for their role in events that led to the blast.

The local currency is now worth less than one-tenth of its official value and fuel shortages have forced the Lebanese to queue for hours in the hope of filling half a tank.

Pharmacies are unable to dispense basic drugs, such as paracetamol, and local media have reported cases of small children dying because their parents could not obtain medicine.

Updated: July 27, 2021, 7:31 AM