Two Beirut rallies. Two visions for Lebanon.
Supporters of both pro-Western factions and Hezbollah militants honored their respective slain leaders.
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After unveiling a monument to his murdered father, Saad Hariri, a top March 14 leader addressed the crowd from behind a bulletproof screen. "Today, you have come again to say we want a president. And we say you will have a president."Skip to next paragraph
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Urging dialogue and cooperation between all factions, Mr. Hariri added, "This is the goal of the citizens gathered here in Martyrs' Square as well as the southern suburbs for the funeral service of resistance commander [Imad Mughnieh]."
Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, an outspoken March 14 leader, said that the people behind the spate of assassinations of Lebanese officials, many of them critics of Syria, would be brought to justice, "be they in their palaces, squares, or caves."
Hezbollah's war cry
In Hezbollah's southern Beirut stronghold, the mood was vastly different. Thousands of party supporters, dressed mainly in black, gathered at a vast auditorium for the funeral of Mr. Mughnieh.
It was an occasion typical of Hezbollah's sense of pomp and ceremony. Banners and flags flew, a brass band played. There were politicians in dark suits and open-neck shirts, clerics in brown or black robes with white or black turbans. Black-suited officials clutching walkie-talkies and ear microphones marshaled the mourners through metal detectors at the entrance of the auditorium and guided them to the rows of thousands of plastic chairs.
Sitting in a line below a stage at the front of the hall and facing the crowd were some of Hezbollah's top leaders, there to receive the steady flow of delegations and individuals coming to pay condolences.
Mughnieh's coffin lay in state on the stage, draped in a yellow Hezbollah flag, four black-uniformed and bereted fighters standing at attention alongside it.
Mughnieh's assassination was a "shame" for Israel, Mr. Mottaki said, reading the letter. "[Israel's] smile will not last long and they will fall to the hand of justice."
Seen on a giant TV screen suspended over the stage, Hizbullah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah eulogized Mughnieh and threatened to expand the confrontation with Israel. "You have killed Hajj Imad [Mughnieh] outside the natural battlefield," he said referring to the borders of Lebanon. "With this murder – its timing, location, and method – Zionists, if you want this kind of open war, let the whole world listen: Let this war be open."
Mr. Nasrallah recalled that past Israeli assassinations of Hezbollah leaders, including his direct predecessor, Sheikh Abbas Mussawi, had only made the party stronger.
"Hajj Imad's blood will mark the beginning of the downfall of the state of Israel," he said. "He has left behind tens of thousands of well-trained and equipped combatants who are ready for martyrdom."
The crowd roared with approval as thousands of hands punched the air amid chants of "Yes to Nasrallah."