Beyond the end of sectarianism, and beyond civil law.

The Lebanese parliamentary elections are approaching quickly and a wide array of new groups aim to challenge the traditional power holders of this country, (the ones in parliament, the government and beyond).

Some of of them, such as LiBaladi, Haqqi, hold progressive and liberal point of views.

Participating in a sectarian, proportional, and complicated elections, many new groups believe in a civil state, basically, justice, law and state have to be separated from religious authorities.

Sectarianism is an obvious ill in Lebanon, but it is often a layer (or a curtain) to the ills behind it.

I personally feel that a lot of people and groups often believe that if sectarianism comes to an end in Lebanon, if political parties don’t rely themselves anymore on sectarian manipulation and quotas, if law is separated from religion, then Lebanon would be a functioning nation, with fair services and laws to citizens, and a fair justice system.

It is obvious that it is not the case, all we have to do is to look at other secular, civil nations. Inequality and corruption are also present there, and there is one common layer to all current societies, and it is a harsh, neo-liberal form of capitalism.

Current groups and people fighting for seats in the parliament (or change) have to see this.

Sectarianism isn’t the greatest ill of this country.

To end the current post, I’ll cite the late thinker Bassem Chit:

The reason why many consider sectarianism as a “counter-nationalist” and a “pre-modern expression” is due to the fact that most dominant interpretations of the historical developments of modern Arab and Middle Eastern societies are crude and Eurocentric – in which the development of capitalism (and thus modernity) is understood to follow the European model. In this case the understanding of modernity is that of an ideological break with religious establishments and ideas.

The Lebanese civil war 41 years later.

This is not a post to try to explain the Lebanese Civil War, but to remember, and to eventually move on.

We must remember the absurdity of war, death, destruction, and the subsequent Nihilism. We must take a look at our past and be shocked by the amount of nonsense that this country has witnessed over 15 years, and is still witnessing. The war can’t be clearly explained, lines could follow, the Palestinian question can enter the scheme, Syria, Saudi Arabia, France, the Murabitoun, the Christian extreme-right, the nationalism, fascism, extremism. We must remember Israel and its rain of bombs.

We must remember their faces, Geagea, Pierre, Bachir and Amine Gemayel, Nabih Berri, Hassan Nasrallah, Kamal and Walid Jumblatt, Camille and Dany Chamoun, Yasser Arafat, we must save their faces and paste their images into our heads. These are the faces we should look at with not only anger and indignation, but pity, and a strong wish for fair justice.

We must not try to explain too much the war, but we must analyse what has kept the war lords of yesterday as our politicians today. We must look at the Taef agreement and spit on it. We must deeply think and explain their tools to stay in power: neoliberalism, despotism, clientelism, and of course, the sectarian system, the use of religion, God, and finally, identitarian politics. The use of the identities to rule over one own identity and to fight with others.

Most importantly, we must completly reject and fight the Lebanese identity to explain our so-called importance regarding the Syrian refugees or Palestinian refugees, or really, everyone and everything non-Lebanese. This is racism and lead to apparently innocent statements as: “Lebanese have more rights to fair pay and fair jobs than the Syrian refugees, it’s our country” This statement could be easily transformed into “The Lebanese state can’t allow other Lebanese or non-Lebanese to mock our symbols, the Cedar, the flag, the national anthem”. And that already exists by law. Palestinians and Syrians often laugh on this, saying they have less rights than the Lebanese flag, which is true.

We must fight and stop everyone talking in the name of their sect, as if he was designated to be their spokesperson . “Nahna l shi3a, nahna l sunna, nahna l massi7iye, nahna l druze”. “We the Shia, we the Sunna, we the Christians, we the Druze”. If you hear someone talking like this, just stop him. It’s easy, I do it. And of course, a so called political leader of the ruling class isn’t more representative of his sect. So reject them.

We must remember, and hope it won’t happen again. “Tenzakar w ma ten3ad”. We must remember the 17,000 disappeared, those are mostly forgotten. We must fight to retrieve them, or at least I fear, their bodies.

We won’t have a better Lebanon if we keep following those “leaders”, and if we don’t think about an alternative system, not only a secular one, but a socialist one, one that wouldn’t allow the oppressor and the oppressed game, one that would allow less differences between rich and poor (and eventually none?). Let’s reject the shallow and lazy statement that “It’s has always been like that”. No it hasn’t always been like that.

Finally, let’s not exclude the Syrian and Palestinian refugees from society, alienation won’t help anyone, and will also trigger more tensions between the different people of this country. We shall not feel kinder if we do, or even prouder, those politicians just need to be more humane, but they won’t, so let’s oust them.

“Ma nrabe7 7alna jmile” if we include Syrians, Palestinians, migrant workers, everything non-Lebanese, let’s not applaud ourselves. Let’s go beyond nationalities. It’s our role not to exlude them first. Let’s not be patronising about it.


Why you need to support Civil Marriage in Lebanon. [Opinion]

First, let’s begin by exposing the practical difficulties of Civil Marriage in Lebanon for religious couples. (So we are here allowing the choice of a civil marriage).

Let’s imagine that a couple, a Muslim man and a Christian woman decide to marry, it is religiously possible, and yet they decide to marry secularly first, and then with a Sheikh. The young couple decides to have children and that they will be able themselves to choose their religion (or its absence), the Father won’t push the children towards Islam and the mother won’t push them to Christianity. Eventually the father dies, and the inheritance must be made, the late father didn’t write a will so the family of the man decides that it will be made according to the Islamic law and believe that the children, born from a Muslim man, are Muslims so it is applicable to them, the Children, now grown-ups and with their own beliefs, decide that the inheritance must be made equally made between them. (they’re brother and sister and Islamic law stipulated that the man must inherit double the woman). Eventually, there will be a huge mess between the state secular lawyers and the Islamic jurisprudence. What law should be applied?
For this situation I believe that the children decide for themselves, if we suppose they didn’t register a sect.

A similar situation is that the father (with the Ok from his wife) wants his inheritance to be applied by Islamic law for their children, but the children didn’t accept this. The couple married secularly and religiously, and the children in this new scenario are registered as Muslims. What will follow?

Let’s not even other much more complicated situation like the inheritance of young children if the father dies, or a divorce, etc etc. This is just to provide the technical difficulties it can bring.

Despite all these difficulties, everyone should have the right to marry in his own way, be it secular or religious.
Let’s imagine that an atheist couple want to marry to benefit from the laws and well, and well, be called a married couple! Why should they pass by the religious ceremony when it doesn’t apply to them? They have every right to marry the way they like. And it’s not only applied to atheists of course, everyone should be able to choose between secular marriage and religious marriage.
I don’t believe it should be mandatory because it would bring a shock to religious authorities and people that simply don’t want civil marriage in their lives, again, it’s their choice. It’s maybe too soon.

Here’s article 3 of the Lebanese constitution.

Three. Lebanon is a parliamentary democratic Republic based on respect for public liberties, especially the freedom of opinions and belief, and respect for social justice and equality of rights and duties among all citizens without discrimination.

This article should push the Lebanese law to allow for civil marriage. A LOCAL civil marriage is already legal. According to experts, a law decree that dates from 1936 already grants people not affiliated with any sect to marry. Interior minister (pro optional civil marriage) should not slow down the processus by not recognising civil marriage made locally.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk supports the principle of optional civil marriage in Lebanon, but the absence of a civil law setting out the procedures of the practice currently makes it impossible for the ministry to recognise civil marriage contracts registered with Lebanon’s public notary, a statement said. – See more here.

I understand that there’s an absence here, but instead of completely rendering those marriages unrecognisable, he must AT LEAST call for a debate on civil marriage and propose a clear law to set out the procedures. It is time the unconstitutionally extended Parliament follow simple principles of the Lebanese constitution and especially look at this one.

Eight. The abolition of political sectarianism shall be a basic national goal and shall be achieved according to a gradual plan.

This article should ring up a bell in the heads of every MP. Granting at least an option to civil marriage is I believe part of the gradual plan towards sectarianism end.

Tomorrow, Sunday the 1st of March, a protest will call for civil and secular rights granted by the constitution. Here’s the details on Facebook. 

Finally, it is super important to say that civil marriage doesn’t turn a human being into an infidel or immoral person and it is absurd to believe so.