( dpa ) - Lebanese were divided Thursday in their opinions regarding US President George W Bush's visit to the Middle East, but all agreed that they were pleased he did not include Lebanon in his tour.
"If Bush comes to Lebanon now, he will make things worse for the Lebanese," said Sunni Muslim Mohammed Shakr.
"For us as Lebanese, we hope that the US president's visit to the region will lead to peace and the region will witness prosperity," he added.
Lebanon has been without a president since pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud's term ended on November 23, plunging the country into the worst political crisis since the end of its 1975-90 civil war.
"We have enough problems in the country. We do not Bush to visit to ignite things," said Christian Habib Kenaan.
The Bush administration have accused the governments of Syria and Iran as well as the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah of working to bring down the government of Lebanon.
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah spoke out against Bush's presence in the region as the US president began his tour in Israel on Wednesday.
Nasrallah accused Bush of deceiving Arabs by trying to depict Iran, not Israel, as their enemy.
"We must record that today is a black day in the history of the Arab region and in the history of our Arab and Muslim nation," Nasrallah told a Shiite Muslim religious gathering to chants of "Death to America" and "Death to Israel."
Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, is a sworn enemy of Israel and is on Washington's terrorist list. The movement fought a 33-day war with Israel in 2006 and backs militant Palestinian groups.
"Bush comes to the region practicing the largest deception operation in history by saying that he is coming to protect Arabs and especially Gulf states from Iran," Nasrallah said.
Criticizing Bush for expressing his full support of Israel, Nasrallah said, "Bush the deceiver does not protect Arabs from the real, daily murderer while he claims he wants to protect them from a presumed enemy."
In areas of Lebanon, where Hezbollah has a strong following, people expressed anger towards Bush. "The Arab leaders are strengthening Bush's Zionist backing," said Ali Hashem near the Hezbollah stronghold in Haret Hriek.
"Hezbollah and the free people of the Arab world will always stand in the face of Bush and his administration that only serves the interests of Israel," said Fatima Hammoush, a Hezbollah supporter.