Lifestyle & Belief

Lebanon: 'celebratory gunfire' goes awry as son shoots and kills father


A supporter of the Lebanese Shiite Amal movement shoots in the air to celebrate the re-election of the leader of Amal, Nabih Berri, as Parliament Speaker for a fourth consecutive term during the inaugural session of the new parliament, 28 June 2005 in Beirut.


Haitham Mussawi

BEIRUT, Lebanon — A man in Lebanon's Bekaa valley accidentally shot and killed his father as the older man attempted to prevent him from shooting into the air at a wedding, a practice known as "celebratory gunfire," reported Naharnet.

The Saadnayel wedding, in the eastern part of the inland Bekaa valley, was derailed and the injured man was rushed to a hospital, where he later died, wrote the Daily Star.

Lebanese authorities have endeavored to crack down on celebratory gunfire since innocent bystanders are often harmed.

Agence France Presse reported in the politically tense year 2008 that "No sooner does Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri or another high-profile figure take to the air than the rat-tat-tat of gunfire reverberates through Beirut."

"This is an uncivilized reaction and reflects Lebanon's unstable political situation," Internal Security Forces head General Achraf Rifi said.

In 2009, Sonia Saade mistook her celebratory gunfire wound for ulcer pain. In reality, it was caused by a bullet whizzing down from the sky, through her chest from where it "plunged straight down to stop near a kidney, causing massive internal damage," AFP wrote. She survived because she was close to a hospital, but many others have died from stray bullets.

The Lebanese government often warns against celebratory gunfire, with occasional courteous reminders that it is illegal. In 2009 the Lebanon News Network wrote that Nabih Berri, the head of the Shiite Amal party, called on supporters to cease firing their weapons into the air after reports that a woman was scared into cardiac arrest from celebrations following the reelection of the 74-year-old, five-term parliament speaker.

"We remind (the Lebanese) over and over again of our rejection and strong denunciation of celebratory gunfire on every occasion. This is causing harm, damage and even death and injury to citizens," Berri said. 16 others were injured in that event.

In 2008, two leading Shiite clerics banned celebratory gunfire in a fatwa that said the practice "is not acceptable and is banned by the Islamic Sharia law, because it endangers the safety of people," wrote NOW Lebanon

The late Sayyed Fadlallah "described the activity as a bad and uncivilized way for expression."