Imad Marmal – As-Safir
Interviewing Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah is not like other interviews. Perhaps its best is that it starts before its time, and doesn’t stop when it ends.
Whether it refers to media or politics, meeting the “Sayyed” has its own known privacy, because preparing for it is unusual, regarding the security measurements that must be taken into consideration.
Based on that, I went last Friday evening to “al-Manar” Channel’s building in Haret Hreik, where the “tour” was supposed to start to the anticipated televised show with the “Sayyed.”
It was few minutes past six when the Head of News and Political Programs at al-Manar TV, Dr. Ibrahim Mousawi and I rode one of Hezbollah dark glass cars, which took random paths that included multiple stops.
On our way, we tried to use our “intuition” to deduce the directions in which the driver was moving, as we were separated from him by a black curtain. Soon after, you change your mind as the ways directly appear very “random.”
Sayyed Ibrahim Mousawi and I, trying to fill the “stressful” period of time, started some different side discussions; exchanging expectations about what would the “Sayyed” say in his televised appearance. Suddenly, the car stops in some “unknown” place. Someone opens the door, and then we find one of Hezbollah officials welcoming us with a wide smile. He said: We hope we didn’t disturb you… We are sorry, but these measurements are necessary… (We used to hear this expression along all the stops we passed on our way to meet the “Sayyed”.)
We directly entered a big reception hall, in which the Lebanese flag stood beside “Hezbollah’s” flag; four seats were set in there, surrounded by a flowers bouquet and small tables with a dish of sweets and a bottle of water on each.
Few minutes later, we were told by one of the “Sayyed’s” assistants that “Hezbollah’s” Secretary General will meet us for some time before the show starts. We were very glad, and I, personally, felt that I will win a “show” within the “show.”
Indeed, the “Sayyed” soon appeared with his leading figure yet down-to-earth personality. As we shook hands, actually it was a hug and kisses, he took a seat, and we were directly in front of him. In the very first moments, you feel confused about the words you should start with. Your senses compete to embrace the presence of such a central personality, whose size became greater than Lebanon, and is very hard in both the Arab and Islamic worlds.
First of all, I had to thank him for the chance to host him on a televised show “after nine years on the last interview I personally made with him on al-Manar TV.” The “Sayyed” corrected the time coordinates, explaining that the last interview was made before the July war: “The July 2006 war became a turning point for me, there is a period before and a period after it…” Sayyed Nasrallah said.
After we were served tea, the “Sayyed” started to generally display the situations in Lebanon, Syria and the region. He stopped at the tragedy of the victim pilgrims in “Mena” and wished to skip the question that he was supposed to be asked about how he spent the Adha Feast in person, “because the reality we are living is not convenient to such a kind of questions, especially after the pilgrims’ tragedy.”
It was almost 08:00 o’clock, thirty minutes before the interview was supposed to start, when the “Sayyed” left us as he was getting prepared to the official live appearance.
Meanwhile, I went to the next room where the discussion table was set. I organized my thoughts for the televised moment of truth…
About 15 minutes before the interview, the “Sayyed” took his seat in front of the table as he was carrying some papers including numbers and dates he would later on use during the show. It was noticeable that he was; personally, keen to follow up with the technicians some details regarding the image and the appearance, not to mention the “AC” which he asked to cool down more.
Few minutes were left before the live broadcast. It was a must to invest them as much as possible.
A person entered carrying a tray of teacups and Lemonade, which became popular recently. I was asking the “Sayyed” about the secret of deciding to appear on TV on the second day of the Adha Feast. He explained that there are two main reasons for this timing. The first is related to the field and rapid political developments in the Syrian issue, and the second is that the timing of the “Hadith Sa’aa” show happens to be on Fridays.
When I asked him if he watches political programs, he said he does sometimes, or he watches some selected parts of them. “Sometimes I follow the news bar in the bottom of the screen, especially when I am waiting guests…”
On 08:30 exactly, the “Sayyed” came from the shadow to the light. Then, the three hours and ten minutes show happened to be. It was full of messages and stances on the levels of Lebanon, Syria and the region.
After the interview that exceeded its originally set duration, and with the “Sayyed’s” consent, the attendees took some pictures with Sayyed Nasrallah, who, as he left, didn’t forget to send greetings to all those who asked us to deliver their salutes to him. They were many. The paper the “Sayyed’s” assistant received was not enough to carry the names of all of them.