To take exams or wage war?

To take exams or wage war?
Blog: One Hizballah fighter has been taking social media by storm after uploading a picture saying he will be missing his university exams to fight in Syria.
2 min read
16 Jun, 2015
The image of the fighter holding his sign [Lebanon Files]
As exams season hits the Middle East once again, one would-be university student has posted a photo of himself on social media.

What's more unusual about this story is that the young man is a Hizballah fighter, and, in the picture, he holds a sign stating that he will not be able to attend his exams - because he is taking part in the ongoing Qalamoun offensive along the Lebanese border with Syria.

"From the outskirts of Arsal, greetings to Lebanese university students," wrote the anonymous aspiring teacher. "[From] your brother that will fail his finals."

The Shia Lebanese militia, Hizballah, has been fighting alongside the Assad regime against the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and other Syrian opposition forces entrenched in the Qalamoun Mountains, which span the Syrian-Lebanese border.

The Lebanese border town of Arsal has been a base for Hizballah as it fights groups on the Syrian side of the border. In recent weeks, it has captured more than a dozen positions and hilltops from the Nusra Front.

Hizballah, led by Hassan Nasrallah, has entrenched itself within Shia society in Lebanon over the past 30 years. Young Shia, mainly from the south, join the group for a variety of reasons including job security and a belief in the group's mission.

Hizballah's youth programme, "the Mahdi Scouts", recruits children from the age of eight, and has a reputation of being an incubator for the group's armed wing.

Comments on the picture were unsurprising divided.

"You ass, stay in university and get your degree. You're going to get yourself killed."

Others were more supportive:

"You hero, we wish you the best in this world and the afterlife."

Some, meanwhile, criticised Hizballah for being more interested fighting than the education of young people.