BEIRUT: A young Lebanese man who drowned after rescuing two friends from a flooded river in Guinea, West Africa, was given a hero’s funeral on Friday after his body was returned to his hometown in northern Lebanon.
Hussein Fsheikh, who moved to Guinea several years ago for work, drowned on the first day of Eid Al-Adha after saving a young couple who had been washed away by floodwaters in the Konkoure River.
Fsheikh, who was in his 20s, was buried in his hometown of Btermaz in Danniyeh, northern Lebanon, after his body arrived at dawn from Guinea.
Tearful countrymen paid tribute to Fsheikh’s courage and the “Hussein Fsheikh” hashtag was the most trending in Lebanon on Friday.
Fsheikh’s village was shocked by his death. His last post on Facebook before his drowning read: “On the Day of Arafat, let us forgive each other and open a new page. I swear by God that this is the best occasion to forgive and to rethink life in all its details. Do not forget to pray for us.”
The tragic death of the young Lebanese, who worked in Guinea to support his family in Akkar, one of Lebanon’s poorest regions, sparked protests against “the impotent Lebanese political elite which is forcing young Lebanese to emigrate.”
After several parliamentarians in the region mourned Fsheikh’s death on Twitter, young activists condemned what they described as an act of political propaganda.
“We are used to thinking that the hero does not die in the end, but Hussein proved the opposite. He went abroad in search of a decent living and a better future,” Rayyan tweeted.
According to Ziad Itani, an artist, “It is a clear example of our youth who have been abandoned by the political authority and falsely called expatriates, as if immigration was a hobby.”
He said: “Hussein is a young Lebanese who died away from his country. They praised him for his qualities, and we bid farewell to him as we bid farewell to many of our dreams.”
Activist Joseph Tawk said: “The hypocritical politicians rushing to social media to express sadness about your departure. Where were all these people before you traveled? Where was their patriotism and humanity as you were leaving your country in search of a decent living that you were unable to find in your own country?”
Tawk blamed Fsheikh’s death on “a corrupt political class that leaves no jobs except for their loyal people, and makes no effort to develop the industry, agriculture, trade or institutions in order to save Lebanese young women and men from need and hunger.
“It is a political elite that is short-sighted, and blinded by its sectarianism and militia mindset,” he said.