Beirut, Jan 14 (DPA) The slogan ‘I love life’ is currently covering billboards around the Lebanese capital as the government and the opposition compete over who loves life and Lebanon more. It is a campaign used by the March 14 Coalition and has been countered by slogans from the opposition that read: ‘We love life without debt or outside interferences.’The billboards represent the competition between Lebanon’s government and its allies, and the opposition to show their love for Lebanon.’We love life with pride,’ reads a billboard for the Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah. A few metres away, a large billboard pasted up by the forces that support the government of Premier Fouad Seniora says: ‘We want to live. We love life.’

Since Christmas, red-and-white posters were pasted up around Beirut proclaiming ‘I love life’ in Arabic, English and French in an apparent reaction to Hezbollah’s culture of martyrdom. ‘There is a group in Lebanon who advocate death and love war and they put the idea of military confrontation above any other consideration,’ said a follower of the government. ‘We are telling them not all the Lebanese back your views and we love to live.’  Said Hezbollah’s Zuheir Safieddine: ‘This is silly. The government forces think only they love Lebanon and they love life, but we tell them we love Lebanon to be free from political, social, financial debt.’Opposition follower George Aoun remarked: ‘We tell them (the government forces) that advertising never bought the trust of the people. Go invest in building constitutions and show goodwill in boosting the economic cycle.’

However, the billboards have angered some Lebanese who consider themselves neutral in the political crisis dividing the country. They criticise both sides for pulling the country into civil strife. One such critic is Najwa Baydoun, a Lebanese social worker.’Who are they (opposition and government forces) kidding? Human minds can be limited and blind sometimes, but they should not use the word ‘love’ in their political war,’ said Baydoun.

‘The word love should come from the heart and if it just used as a catchy slogan, then it is baseless,’ she added.

For some 40 days, Lebanon has been deeply divided between the opposition and the government led by an anti-Syrian majority.

Hezbollah and their allies are continuing in their open-ended protest to bring down the national government of Seniora, while the government insists on staying in power.

The billboards that clearly show the country’s political divisions are posted everywhere.

‘The opposition and the government are saying they love Lebanon … but no one is making a compromise to save the unity of this small country,’ said Sami Harb, who says he does not back any political group.

‘Although the war was over in 1990, these billboards and the competition for loving life and Lebanon make us feel that a different war is heading our way,’ he added. ‘This time it is going to be over who loves Lebanon more.’