Following are excerpts from an interview with Rami 'Aleiq, the former head of the Hizbullah Students Union at the AmericanUniversity in Beirut, which aired on Rotana Music TV on August 25, 2008.
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"Three Things Influenced My Personality... The School, the Street, and [Home]... But... the Influence of the Street Culture Prevailed"
Rami 'Aleiq: "I was born in 1972, before the Lebanese civil war. As soon as I came into this world, I witnessed forced emigration, great anarchy, war, and weapons. Undoubtedly, this had an impact on me, and left me with question marks and a sense of rejection, even as a child.
"One is raised on certain notions - whether religious, political, cultural, ideological, or social - but later, one realizes that these notions gradually fall apart before one’s eyes."
Interviewer: "When you were young, you were a thug. You stabbed your sister with a knife because she didn't want to wear the hijab. You were 14 years old at the time."
Rami 'Aleiq: "Right."
Interviewer: "You accused your family of apostasy, saying they were infidels and sinners. Such a criminal worldview in a teenager... Who shaped it for you?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "First of all, I'm not sure I agree with the word 'criminal.' This is the product of society. It was shaped by the street. Three things influenced my personality, as they influence the personality of any teenager or child..."
Interviewer: "Stabbing is not a crime?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "Taken by itself, it is a crime. But crimes have underlying social circumstances. I was just a child, a minor. [A child is influenced] by the school, the street, and his home. My home was moderate, and so was my school, but the street was overflowing with extremism. The influence of the street culture prevailed." [...]
"It Is Not Just Hizbullah... All [The] Parties Rely On Teenagers"
Interviewer: "Let's return to when you were 13 or 14 years old. That year, you took up arms and became a fighter for Hizbullah. The rifle must have been bigger than you."
Rami 'Aleiq: "Right."
Interviewer: "Does Hizbullah's army need 13-year-old children in its ranks?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "To be honest, it is not just Hizbullah. This applies to all the parties. All parties rely on teenagers."
Archival footage shown
Crowd: "We are all with you, Rami! We are all with you, Rami!"
Interviewer: "That was you?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "Yes."
Interviewer: "And this is you now?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "Yes."
Interviewer: "There is a very great difference."
Rami 'Aleiq: "Only in the sense of external appearance. The essence is the same, but the form has changed tremendously. This incident... If I want to sum up the circumstances, this was one of the incidents that changed the course of my life, and changed my beliefs. I was subjected to a savage beating. If you look at the newspapers from that day, you will see what savage beatings we got.
"People from all sects and political affiliations were standing by me. We shattered the fetters of partisanship. There were members of different parties as well as independents, and we shattered the fetters of political pressures. We decided in advance that we would stick together even if we got beaten up. This was a great thing which caused many of my beliefs to come undone.
"This was somehow connected to the conspiracy theory. We felt that there was an existential threat to the Shiites. This theory still exists."
This Conspiracy Theory "Was The Product of a Certain Culture... The Idea That Your Salvation Depended on Preserving the Narrow [Shiite] Framework"
Interviewer: "Who taught you this conspiracy theory?"
Rami ‘Aleiq: "Nobody did. It was the product of a certain culture, which would instill in your mind the idea that your salvation depended on preserving the narrow [Shiite] framework. This makes you feel that the end absolutely justifies the means."
Interviewer: "After this, you secluded yourself for three days in an old church, you developed a desire to learn about Jesus and Christian teachings, and you performed Christian rituals. Were you baptized with holy water in accordance with Christian rituals?"
"I Was Baptized With Holy Water... [But] I Did Not Convert From Islam To Christianity. I Kept My Islamic Faith"
Rami 'Aleiq: "Yes. I was baptized with holy water. I did this out of my own free will, but just to be clear, I did not convert from Islam to Christianity. I kept my Islamic faith, and still do. I added the Christian way to my religious practice, because I distinguish between religion and faith. Faith has no identity, and the goal of religion is to reach faith, to reach God."
Interviewer: "Are you for or against sex before marriage?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "I'm for it."
Interviewer: "But all religions forbid this."
Rami 'Aleiq: "I think that the way this issue is viewed is subject to social development, and religions need to be aware of social developments."[...]
"We Would Have Sex With Prostitutes For 500 Syrian Lira per Half Hour... In Islam... A Girl Is Mature from the Age of Nine... I Was a Child, and So Was She... I Was Not Allowed to Touch Her" Without Contracting a Pleasure-Marriage
Interviewer: "[In your book,] you write: 'When I went on trips, I used to go secretly with several young friends to the Al-Marja neighborhood in Damascus. We would go to a hotel in order to have sex with prostitutes for 500 Syrian liras per half hour.' To justify this, you write: 'None of us would make physical contact with the girl he chose before signing a formal pleasure-marriage contract with her.' Isn't marriage meant to be out of pure intentions? Weren't you conning God this way?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "You're right. Pleasure-marriage means conning God, as well as ourselves. I am against this way of relating to sex and to women.
"This is something that still goes on. It is wrong."
Interviewer: "Back then you were an observant Shiite Muslim from Hizbullah, weren't you?"
Rami ‘Aleiq nods.
Interviewer: "How did you ever dare to sign a pleasure-marriage contract with a nine-year-old girl?"
Rami 'Aleiq: "In our culture, in order to be able to touch a girl or a woman, there must be a contract of pleasure-marriage."
Interviewer: "We are talking about a nine-year-old girl..."
Rami 'Aleiq: "Sure. In Islam, and this is what we were taught, a girl is mature from the age of nine. This is true with regard to Sunnis as well as Shiites. You are focusing on Shia Islam, because I am a Shiite, but according to religious jurisprudence, a girl is mature at the age of nine. This is where we got this idea. I was a child, and so was she, so I was not allowed to touch her, if I didn't form with her the kind of relation that permitted this."