"This man was a man of moderation and unity," said Beirut's Maronite bishop, Boulos Matar. "Losing him, our unity is a little bit under pressure. It could be dangerous both politically and economically."
The sectarian divisions that plunged Lebanon into civil war have been replaced by a new point of contention: whether Syrian troops and intelligence agents should be forced to relinquish their grip on the country.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday February 18, 2005 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 37 words Type of Material: Correction
Lebanese flag -- An article in Thursday's Section A about the funeral of Lebanon's former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri said the nation's flag includes an image of a cypress tree. It is an image of a cedar.
Hariri resigned in protest over Syrian involvement in Lebanese politics. He wanted to restore the civil liberties, economic prowess and progressive social atmosphere Lebanon enjoyed before the war, and he had begun to join forces with opposition groups demanding a Syrian withdrawal.
Many of the mourners said that with Hariri's death, the anti-Syria movement had found a new call to arms. They referred to themselves as members of a newly emboldened, cross-sectarian nationalist movement that is dedicated to fighting the occupation.
"We want Syria out of Lebanon," said three young women who sat gloomily on a curb as the crowds began to melt away.
"Syria says they're protecting us. Enough. Let's go after them," snorted one, a 24-year-old English teacher named Iman. "We used to be afraid, but now they're the ones who are afraid -- the Lebanese government and Syria. They're not safe anymore."
Assem Zeineddine, a 64-year-old former officer in the security forces who had made his way to Beirut from his home in the Chouf mountains, agreed.
"The nationalists are those who love Lebanon," he said. "This death will unite us. I consider it the beginning."
Special correspondent Rania Abouzeid contributed to this report.