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LEBANON: Thousands rally against sectarian leaders

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Thousands of Lebanese turned out on Sunday in Beirut to protest the tribal and religious figureheads that embody the country's entrenched sectarian political system.

IMG_3906Critics say the confessional power-sharing agreement enshrined in the constitution and laws of Lebanon allows a small elite to dominate politics, dividing the spoils of the state among themselves and weakening the government while strengthening the systems of patronage that keep them in power.

"Today we are marching against the symbols of the sectarian system, which are the leaders, and for full equality between men and women, including the right for women to pass on their nationality," said Bassem Chit, one of the protest organizers.

Monday is Mother's Day in Lebanon. Under current Lebanese law, women who marry foreign men are not allowed to pass their citizenship to their spouses or their children, ostensibly to preserve the current sectarian balance between Muslims and Christians. Marriage, divorce and child custody are also handled by religious courts.

Sunday's protest was the third organized against the sectarian system by a broad coalition of civil society, political and youth organizations. Protesters carried signs and shouted slogans demanding the "overthrow of the regime," echoing the rallying cry of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings.

But Lebanon's sectarian "regime" rules by a tyranny of chaos rather than a monolithic autocracy that can be toppled. More often than not, the parties in power are locked in political stalemate, playing on sectarian fears to mobilize their bases while blaming the lack of social and legislative progress on the intransigence of their opponents.

"There is a lot of discussion" on how to dismantle institutionalized sectarianism, Chit said. "We don't expect the system to fall in the coming days."

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-- Meris Lutz in Beirut

Photos, from top: Protesters in Beirut rallied against the sectarian political system and its figureheads; A young woman holds a sign demanding civil marriage; Thousands of Lebanese took part in Sunday's march. Credit: Meris Lutz

Comments () | Archives (6)

@Zombeer

Have you ever seen the picture of the French flag with a crescent in it? Well that is what will happen to Lebanon if the sectarian system is abolished. You will see a crescent choking the cedar on the Lebanese flag.

And about Israel and Hezbollah, be sure that if Christian militias were still armed they and the Lebanese Army would have crushed the Hezbollah army within a week and we would have got PEACE (and also with Israel). You don't know the thousands of benefits that this would generate. Have you checked the recent wikileaks cables about Lebanon? Many respectable politicians admitted that they wanted peace with Israel, even Nabih Berri.
But now that all Christian parties gave their weapons to the Lebanese Army - AND THAT IS CALLED DEMOCRACY - the actual political system is their only defense.

I am sorry to say that Islam and Democracy can not coexist. Even Turkey, the "ideal case" of coexistence between Islam and Democracy, is not a better democracy than Lebanon.

Syrians and Lebanese are good looking, intelligent, strong, tough, and more. They should form a permanent union, and ally with Turkey, China, and Iran against Israel. It might be the only way to save both peoples in the future. They can not trust any of the members of the coalition which are dominated by Zionists.

@4pk4,

What a sickening comment to make. You yourself have just admitted that even if Muslims were comprise 99.9% of the population, they would only have 50% of the power. How in the world does that make sense? How is that democratic? How is that representing the will of the people? If Christians comprised of 99.9% of the nation, and they wanted a Christian theocracy or a secular nation, they shouldn't be limited to 50% of the power. That would make no sense.

The people should have whatever type of system they want even if that means a a democratic Islamic republic or a Western-styled democracy.

How in the world is the 'beauty' of Lebanon credible to the Christians and Druze? Allow me to remind you that if it were not for the Muslim resistance fighters, Israel would have long destroyed Beirut and much of Lebanon....Lebanon may not even exist today.

Dear Western people, get this clearly.

What a nutty world we live in!

OH WELL !!

Without the sectarian political system Lebanon would be a [disgusting] Islamic republic. 99% of the beauty of Lebanon is creditable to Christians and Druzes. With this system, Muslims can get as many dozens of children as they wanted, but even if they will someday represent 99% of Lebanese people, they won't have more than 50% of the power.

Dear Western people, get this clearly!


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