A Honeymoon between a Fortress and a Shelter


It was to be expected that Kholoud and Nidal’s civil marriage adventure in Lebanon, with the aid of a former leftist, would be accompanied by a media furor in a country that over-dramatizes everything, especially if it’s a precedent. The issue’s woes are not limited to the Lebanese agents in Cyprus (who have turned civil marriage into a profitable product), Sharia courts (and its judges and staff who are funded by the taxpayers), but also extends to religious and political figures from all sects and denominations. And despite the simplistic principle of the issue, as it relates to the fundamental rights of individuals to self determination, it is now taking on surrealist dimensions as it is being coupled with a debate on electoral laws which not only embolden confessionalism, but some of which go as far as publicly calling for pure confessional demarcations, which makes us regret federalism to head towards the ‘United Confessional Emirates of Lebanon’!

In his justification of the ‘confessional division-ist’ electoral law, one of the Phalange chieftains recalls the ‘refuge theory’, portraying Lebanon’s history as one of immigrants and persecuted minorities. This reasoning makes the return to pre-entity laws reasonable, despite the fact that his new “allies” are saying that a return to the archaic 1960 electoral law is impossible, while they are holding on to a proposed law that quintessentially goes back to before 1860. Such is the way history flows backwards, the ‘reform and change’ way; we’ve witnessed some of its episodes in the electricity, telecommunications, and Phoenician and other heritage scandals.

Hezbollah’s support for this proposed law, after their one-time closeness to calling for an end to Lebanese confessionalism, isn’t surprising, particularly since the draft law is based on proportional representation which will guarantee the party protection from some of “their own
people”, through the hegemony of arms and the plethora of offered services, and private and public benefits. This, coupled with corruption, counterfeiting, robbery and the medicinal drugs and ports scandals, constitute an exemplary model and a “sacred” reality.

It is evident that the flipside of the ‘division law’ is the ‘minority theory’ and its accompanying concerns, which although stemming from Lebanon has had a strong dose from the Arab spring. The revolutions and uprisings brought all the Arab realities to the forefront, including s its sectarian constituents, which the dictatorships hid and displayed at will. It’s worth mentioning that the Syrian hegemony regime which is hiding behind a deceptive form of secularism, had mastered this policy. This is why the regime has been trying since the start of the uprising to present the issue of minorities at the forefront while they’ve been brutally cracking down on peaceful protestors and their ‘shabiha’ have been committing the worst sectarian atrocities, all which unfortunately led to condemnable reactionary retaliations. And as the Syrian revolution shifted towards an armed struggle, the sectarian and ethnic element was further exposed, leading some “intellectuals” to approach the issue in a way that made it seem they support the suppression of the majorities, only further fueling extremism, which was already fostered indirectly by the international reluctance and Arab incompetence, and that’s putting it nicely.

And even if the doubts and fears of the Lebanese groups, especially the Christians, are legitimate, is it acceptable they be amplified into epidemic diseases? Is it acceptable that they be dealt with by going to the extreme, changing even the Patriarch and Bkirki’s stances from the national principles which have previously paved the way to sovereign movement and “second independence”? The Patriarch’s fostering of the meeting of the Maronite MPs and their leaders constituted a clear tangent towards a minority stance leading to the support of the ‘division-ist law’ after almost having an excommunication (horom) put on the 1960 mandated electoral law. On the other isle we see the harsh stance of the Grand Mufti in regards to the civil marriage issue which almost touches on apostasy, a major shift in tone from the traditional Sunni moderation. It is understandable that his eminence takes an anti-civil marriage stance, perhaps on the basis of presumed “differences” with some religious texts, or maybe because it exposes the interests of the “Sharia courts” and its people. However, his draconian tone is surely not in the interest of the Lebanese, whether Christian or Muslim, being the Grand Mufti of Lebanon, especially that his fatwa remind us of the extremist fatwas and the ‘holy victory’ and ‘canonical penalties of excommunication’ theories.

It is certainly not a passing event that the Lebanese Forces and the Phalanges carry the cauldron of the ‘sectarian division’ law, Samir Gaegae has always been a shining beacon for March 14, especially in the principle and nationalist stances. He has also gone quite far in his support for the Arab spring and the Syrian revolution, especially in his approach on the minorities’ issue, to the extent that once couldn’t even tell the different between Samir Gaegae a former militia warlord and Samir Franjieh, the leftist secular beik! He seemed to be a believer in the ability of a diverse people in pursuing their causes through all their complexities and abstruseness, especially in Egypt in Syria, including the sectarian ambiguity. He considered the Muslim Brotherhood victory in the democratic Egyptian election quite a normal matter, even before the recent Egyptian events which bordered on “peaceful violence” against the takeover of the Muslim Brotherhood of the Egyptian state (akhwanah). We’ve always warned against the consequences of falling in the trap of electoral bazars based, almost entirely, on sectarian concerns which brought March 14’s Christians into a ballpark that Hezbollah and Aoun clearly have an advantage. We’ve now reached a stage where the political division has brought us to a place that contradicts the basic principles of democracy.

No one thinks that the Ferzli proposal will pass, including those who created it, perhaps the goal was to disrupt the elections and exaggerate the Sunni-Christian dispute in a bid to destroy what has remained from the Cedar Revolution, a revolution which has highlighted the exceptional Lebanese unity in the face of the assassination of a Sunni leader that constantly tried to bridge the gap between the sects. How can some “Cedar Revolutionaries” reconcile with that history, after breaking these bridges while holding the icon of proper Christian representation? What icon are we talking about when Botrous Harb and others from independent Christians and moderate citizens become marginal in the books of some, especially those who draw power from the weapons of others, or those who are delighted with the “refuge theory”? It is ironic that most of them support the anti sectarian civil marriage cause!
In an earlier article, I wrote about the sadness brought about by the sight of the March 14 leaders’ summit in ‘Bayt-el-wasat’ after the assassination of Wissam Elhassan, being that it was devoid of figures that have forever been considered charismatic symbols, especially those that are independent from all sectarian parties and denominations. And despite a strongly worded statement read out by former Prime Minister Fouad Seniora, not much could change that perception. It seems that those eliciting the “refuge theory” were fed up from that democratic openness of these figures which have a view that the fears and concerns should be dealt with through solidarity amongst all Lebanese and not by placing barricades, fortresses, refuges and armed squares.

It is understandable that Hezbollah, the Aounists and their allies intentionally weaken the moderate Sunni movement, and moderation in general, while bringing the extremists, which are not necessarily fair representatives of the controversial and notorious Salafist movements, to the forefront.

The ‘sectarian division law’ debate has led to generally weakening moderation in all sects. However the country wide youth support for civil marriage in general clearly shows that the sectarian concernes are largely amplified and politicized. This means that it is imperative for the enlightened democratic, secular, civil and leftist forces to play an even bigger role. It also means that the “independents” circle should be widened, and a new agile and diverse framework within the sovereign and independence movements must be devised, which will surely lead to the diversification of political dynamism and the decrease of sectarian competitiveness.

We won’t be witnessing the fall of the March 14 movement any time soon, however we will surely be looking at the major consequences and ramifications of transformations which hide genuine concerns regarding the developments of the Arab Spring, especially the bloody Syrian spring. It is probable that the forces of moderation, especially after the Hariri initiative, will absorb some of these consequences, and perhaps we could head towards a hybrid electoral law which will be a consolidation to all parties, as it is pivotal that the election goes ahead on time to prevent us from turning into a failed state in the face of the looming social and economical dangers coupled with the ever present and increasing security threats. And despite a “cease and desist” neutral stance to the neighboring regional development, keeping in mind the ongoing political secterian and political rigging with double standards, we must initiate solid and agile democratic action plans to absorb these waves and confront all types of incoming dangers. The task is awesome but it has a high symbolic value during the commemoration of the man whose assassination with his peers created an earthquake which paved the way for the March 14 movement.


Tripoli – Lebanon

Translation by Firas khawaja

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11 years ago

A Honeymoon between a Fortress and a Shelteragedeo beam Posted on Al Akhbar proudly pusehbild the results of an investigation that must have taken months, as they uncover the scandal of the century! An investigation by the Campaign to Boycott Israel Supporters in Lebanon has exposed that Israeli-made products are being widely used in the beauty and cosmetics sector in Lebanon. Therapeutic and cosmetic laser surgery is now an integral part of a booming medical tourism industry in Lebanon. Medical and beauty centers are sought after by locals and patients from the Arabian peninsula. But unknown to most of these… Read more »


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