Quantcast
Connect with us

Lebanon youths revolt against confessional system

Published

on

BEIRUT – Protests sweeping the Middle East have given new impetus to Lebanese youths who have launched their own revolt on Facebook in a bid — albeit improbable — to bring down Lebanon’s confessional system.

Using slogans popularised by protesters in Tunisia and Egypt, several pages urging the Lebanese to bring down the Mediterranean country’s confessional “regime” or calling for a “day of wrath” against confessionalism, corruption and poverty have appeared recently on the social networking site.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Lebanese youths, rise up against the oppression of this regime,” writes Mahmoud al-Khatib on www.facebook.com/lebrevolution, which has attracted more than 10,000 friends.

But observers and those behind the initiative say they are well aware that changing the system, in which most government and other posts are attributed according to religion rather than merit, will be a hard-won battle.

“The Lebanese are always boasting about their freedom and democracy as compared to other Arab countries,” said Hassan Chouman, a 24-year-old computer analyst in favour of change.

“But Arab countries each have one dictator whereas we have at least seven or eight,” he added, referring to the political leaders that rule in Lebanon and who represent the country’s various Christian and Muslim communities.

Contrary to other countries in the Middle East, Lebanon’s system of government is rooted in a 1943 power-sharing agreement adopted after the country won its independence from France.

ADVERTISEMENT

Aimed at maintaining a balance between the 18 religious sects, the agreement calls for the president to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister to be a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of parliament a Shiite Muslim.

Other government jobs are also allocated according to religious affiliation.

“In Lebanon, competence doesn’t stand for much,” said Ghassan al-Azzi, political science professor at Lebanese University. “The leader of each community appoints members of his clan to top posts which renders our public administration rotten.”

ADVERTISEMENT

And changing such a system is a bigger challenge than bringing down a dictator, he said.

“Here in Lebanon, if you hold street protests, it is not clear who it would target, which institution, which group. There is nothing tangible,” Azzi added.

ADVERTISEMENT

Religion plays such a major part in all aspects of Lebanese society that even secular politicians are forced to join the system if they wish to survive, he noted.

One Facebook message put it bluntly: “This movement is bound to fail unless each confession brings down its own leader,” it said.

Antoine Messarra, a member of the Constitutional Council, said change will not come through a revolution in Lebanon but rather step by step, through education and better ties between the state and its citizens.

ADVERTISEMENT

“We shouldn’t settle for promises but must address the problem methodically,” he said.

But for some, the current wave of upheaval in the Arab world is reason to hope that change is possible, despite deep divisions in the country pitting a pro-Western camp against a Hezbollah bloc backed by Iran and Syria.

“The lesson to be drawn from the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia is that we must put aside all our differences in favour of a common objective,” said Abu Reem, 39, administrator of the Facebook page titled “the Lebanese people want to bring down the confessional system.”

He said an open meeting would be held on March 6 in Beirut to plot out the next move after his page garnered more than 10,000 admirers.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Nothing is impossible, even if it’s a long road ahead,” Abu Reem said.


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
READ COMMENTS - JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Continue Reading

Breaking Banner

Attorney George Conway reveals two ‘great’ questions — that Trump can’t answer

Published

on

Prominent Republican attorney and Lincoln Project member George Conway on Monday offered his analysis of how reporters should question President Donald Trump.

Conway, the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, made his comments after watching video of Trump refusing to criticize Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Who do you think poisoned Alexei Navalny in Russia?”

“Uh,” Trump replied. “We’ll talk about that at another time.”

Continue Reading

2020 Election

Jaime Harrison says ‘I am living rent free in Lindsey Graham’s head’ — and he might be right

Published

on

Jaime Harrison, the Democrat challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham, on Monday said that his upstart campaign is panicking the incumbent.

Harrison was interviewed on MSNBC by "The Last Word" anchor Lawrence O'Donnell, who noted the most recent polling shows a tied race.

"Have you experienced any extra fund-raising surge over the weekend?" O'Donnell asked.

"Well, Lawrence, we have gotten tremendous support and we really appreciate it," Harrison replied.

"Do you believe you have the resources and the campaign team and the ground troops you need in South Carolina to actually pull this off?" O'Donnell asked later in the interview.

Continue Reading
 

2020 Election

Outrage against Dianne Feinstein as potential Judiciary chair comes out against Senate reform

Published

on

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) received harsh criticism on Monday after coming out against Senate reform of the filibuster.

“I don't believe in doing that. I think the filibuster serves a purpose," Feinstein argued.

"It is not often used, it's often less used now than when I first came, and I think it's part of the Senate that differentiates itself," Feinstein falsely claimed.

https://twitter.com/sahilkapur/status/1308169580658012160

Feinstein is in line to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee if Democrats regain the Senate, despite never attending law school or having ever tried a case.

Continue Reading
 
 
Democracy is in peril. Invest in progressive news. Join Raw Story Investigates for $1. Go ad-free. LEARN MORE