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Hanin Ghaddar

March for secularism; religious laws are archaic

Amid the Scud missile revelation, the recent Israeli threats, internal disputes and Iran’s nuclear program, some people still find it relevant to talk about secularism in Lebanon. Although it sounds random when there is a war at the door, secularism is always timely.

In Lebanon, there is always conflict looming, and most of the time, our sectarian political system is at the core of the tensions. So maybe it is actually the time to bring up all the issues that are usually pushed aside because “it is not the time.”

At the very least it is time to consider the option of instituting a civil personal-status law. Such a law would allow citizens to refer to the state as the only authority in matters of marriage, divorce and inheritance, currently the domain of confessional courts, which rule in line with religious guidelines.

Having a civil personal-status law would mean that the state would take a degree of power, and income, away from the church and the mosque, the priest and the sheikh. Opposition from religious and political figures anxious to maintain their grip on power has so far succeeded in scuttling most serious initiatives to create civil laws.

But let’s ask ourselves the question: What have religious institutions done for Lebanon?

For someone like me, religious institutions constituted a hindrance to my freedom and independence as a woman, and placed me in a sectarian box that is extremely hard to break out of.
 
As a woman in Lebanon, I am a second-class citizen, as I do not enjoy the same rights as men. I cannot be considered the legal guardian of my children, if I marry a foreigner I cannot pass my nationality to my husband and children, and I need permission from my father or husband to do anything. If they do not approve of my choices, they can stop me.

Simply, I, as a Lebanese woman, am treated by the powers that be like a child. As a woman, I need a guardian, because I cannot be trusted to make my own decisions as a free citizen. Why? Because my religious institutions say so.

According to the Lebanese system, I was born a Shia, I have lived as a Shia and I will die a Shia, even if I do not want to, even if I prefer to be identified as “Lebanese”. Wherever I go, I am labeled. No matter how hard I try to shake the stamp off, it still sticks to my skin, because in Lebanon if you are not labeled, people aren’t comfortable dealing with you. They need to know your sect in order to feel at ease. Without sectarian categories, people would have to confront difficult questions of identity and learn to think in a different way.

And change is always difficult, even if it is for the better.

In Lebanon there are 18 sects, and accordingly, there are 18 religious courts and 18 definitions of a Lebanese identity. Who is a Lebanese? Nobody knows. But if you are a Shia, you are immediately considered pro-Hezbollah. If they know you are a Shia, many people from other sects start blaming you for the destruction caused by the 2006 July War and Hezbollah’s invasion of Beirut in May 2008.

At the same time, if you are a “self-hating” Shia, as some people like to call those who criticize Hezbollah, you can be labeled “a traitor” by your co-religionists.

In Lebanon, if you are not politically and conscientiously part of your sect, you have no safety net. You are an outsider in your own country.
 
A few months ago, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Shia leader who is famous for abusing state institutions to boost his support base among the Shia community, decided to announce himself the voice of secularism.

In January of this year, Berri launched a campaign to abolish political sectarianism, something stipulated in Article 95 of the Taif Accord. He called to establish a national committee to abolish political sectarianism in the wake of the formation of the national unity cabinet and considering the current political stability in Lebanon.

Although Berri’s demands matched the dreams of many secular Lebanese, his campaign raised some concerns regarding the consequences of such a move.

The primary benefactors of the abolition of political sectarianism would be the Shia, demographically the largest community in Lebanon, who overwhelmingly side with Hezbollah and Amal. Despite the urgency of eliminating sectarianism from both Lebanese society and the country’s official texts, it would be hard to accept that the largest community, one controlled by the Hezbollah-led opposition and its arsenal, would then be able to control the country.
 
Many want to see a secular state put in place, but they also want to go about it carefully. How could we do it without jeopardizing the freedom of minorities and without putting control of the state in the hands of the largest sect in Lebanon?

People need guarantees of representation for all sects, but how can we provide these guarantees and at the same time ensure equality among citizens?

One answer is a civil personal-status law, where civil marriage could be possible and where men and women are equal before the state.
 
But obliterating political sectarianism requires erasing it on every level, from the education system to discriminatory laws. It requires eliminating the power of religious figures, coming up with a unifying civil law and forbidding the formation of religious parties.

Secularism is a right for those who would like to live without having to leave major decisions in their lives to their religious institutions. Is this too much to ask?

Hanin Ghaddar is managing editor of NOW Lebanon

  • Sami

    4-Sam,there is a universal rule concerning comments/criticism of some one's views.The rule is:Do not comment on his hair;concentrate on his views.Explaining this away by stating that this is your "own logic" does not make sense.There is no such logic called "Sam's logic".I am aware that you are trying to be funny and score points at other's "appearance" expense.I am well known for beingسليط اللسان.But I refrain from such practice being aware of its futility.What if I comment on Jaejae's bold head?Where would our comments concerning some one's hair lead us to?I have no time in dealing with such trivialities.May be your comments were made in a ( لحضة تخلي )as Junblat said.

    May 7, 2010

  • Sami

    3-My call is for more armament till the day comes when the state is strong enough to protect its citizens or our land is liberated whichever comes first.Going back to the marginalization of the Shiaa and to "Lebanon's strength is in its weakness" is a nightmare long gone;we are awaken from this nightmare.Sit back and look at what Amal and HA did for the Shiaa.237 villages are supplied with drinking water, roads,hospitals,schools and services(not to mention employment within the government in the form of muhasaseh)that the "glorious state" refused to supply for more than 70 years.If that is not in the interest of the Shiaa,I do not know what interests you are referring to.Yes the Shiaa lost loved ones during the 2006 war but did they not lose loved ones before HA came into existence?Did the "state" defend them?Let us be realistic,Sam,the state was absent all the time,the vacuum had to be filled.You can not blame those who filled this vacuum;you should blame the state for its absence.

    May 7, 2010

  • Sami

    2- Ashraf Al Nass does not imply that others are not shorafa too.I tell my son that he is a good boy,but do not have in mind how bad my neighbours boy may be,even if he was.It was never about "us" vis a vis "them".The tafahum between the Marooni General and HA is a proof.In fact it is the conflict between "our" ideology and "their" ideology.Ideologies change as did Junblat but still its "him" and "us"?Get real,the support to al mikawameh is pan sectarian among all sects while the support to M14 is lacking the Shiaa support.This fact is what limits the future of M14.You can not have a viable movement that excludes the Shiaa in Lebanon.Every non sectarian party had the Shiaa in its root support,parties such as the communists,the Kawmeyeh,the Baathists and the Murabetoon.Others did not have Shiaa membership thus we see them very limited to their sect and "areas".At the end of the day, you are calling for the disarmament of HA because it brought destruction to Lebanon.

    May 7, 2010

  • Sami

    1-Sam,you insist on presenting connections/comparisons between Hizballah and Stalin,Hitler and the Tutsies.In fact the comparison should be with Al Kataeb/Kuwwat or what is commonly referred to as Al Marooniyeh Al Siyasiyeh or Al In3izaliyeh.We are aware of what Hitler and others did but you are not aware of what Hizballah did not do.Never killed 3al hawiyeh,never killed civilians,never degraded another sect,never claimed superiority over others,never murdered collaborators and never kept the 2006 victory to itself but rather presented it to the Lebanese.I am not concerned with the Arab perceived glories,"others" claimed glories too at various stages of history.I agree the end result is what decides what victory is.I think you wanted to say that Lebanon received a devastating blow to its infra structure and to its civilians in 2006 war thus the perceived defeat.Stalingrad and London were devastated far more than Lebanon was devastated yet the end result is well known.

    May 7, 2010

  • sam

    3.One of the titles bestowed on Hafez Assad was the “Hero of the Liberation War of October” the same war during which Israel occupied additional land from Syria and displaced the guy who believed the “Big Lie”. This is not jumping from one country to another these are exact replicas to what is going on in Lebanon. These are examples of the approaches of the religious party (HA) which is acting in contrast to the interest of Lebanese citizens whatever their sect is including Shia. Sami, the major danger to Lebanon is the notion of "us" vs. "them" ; secularism should abolish this first for the Lebanon to succeed as a state. As long as we keep hearing about how to co-exist, we should continue to worry about existence itself.

    May 5, 2010

  • sam

    2.Joseph Goebbels, father of modern propaganda, developed the “Big Lie”. In essence the “Big Lie” is: If you tell a lie that's big enough, and you tell it often enough, people will believe you are telling the truth, even when what you are saying is total crap. For me “Divine Victory” is the epitome of a “Big Lie”. Wars and Battles are measured by their results not by what the leaders or the propaganda machine says. It is not the first time people believed a “Big Lie” related to Arab-Israel conflict, there were plenty “Big Lies”. In a talk show on a TV a Syrian citizen was asked about his place of birth, he answered and elaborated that he was displaced, when asked about the displacement date he answered “during the Victorious October Liberation War”.

    May 5, 2010

  • sam

    1.Sami. I think you should lighten up about Dr. Abu Kaleel. It is the way I use my own logic. There is no universal rule on how to right a comment. Stalin accused the Chechens of being collaborators with the Nazis, put them on trains and deported them to Siberia killing thousands. An example of an accusation against an ethnic group. Hutu leaders accused the Tootsie of collaboration with the Belgian, called them cockroaches for a period of time and proceeded to kill around two million. Another example of an accusation laid against an ethnic group. Hitler did his version and Saddam too.Promoting a “secular system” which would allow classification of people as natural born “Resisters” and natural born non “Resisters” is exactly the opposite of secularism. Actually, a classification of “Ashraf Alnass” is the first step in starting an accusation against the other non “Ashrafs”, the examples i gave above started the same way.

    May 5, 2010

  • Sami

    "Sami, the same farmer who will kick me out of his house if i deny him table salt, is being convinced to eat chloride. "These are your words not mine.In what context is Chloride used in your comment?The only conclusion I was able to muster is that it is poison or at least not healthy.Why bring it up when you have to explain it away with other idioms,this time being secularism.Why not stick to the point and present your views clearly without jumping from one area to another?Stalin,Hitler,Goebbels,Saddam,Tutsi.I am completely lost.May be it is me,my mind is too simple and can not fly from country to another,from one subject to another.Poking fun of someone should be of his/her comments,ideas and ideology not his hairs length . Once the discussion deteriorates to such level it serves no purpose and loses its intended aims.In my mind,the purpose of comments here is to bring us closer to an understanding on the subject of Lebanon...

    May 4, 2010

  • sam

    Again, i never claimed that HA is feeding farmers poison (a claim of this sort will only help to discredit the proponent, like many others flying around Lebanese pilirtics), I was pointing towards a common fallacy the so called advocates of secularism use which is Composition Fallacy; "part of something is the same as the whole". Chloride is the same as Sodium Chloride,or in this case, secularism is abolishing the "political part" and leaving all other including the ability of one sectarian army to decide when to go to war. There is absolutely no need for me and you to agree on issues of, secularism, approach to foreign policy, religious matter, etc....The only place where such an "agreement" could take place is Orwell's Oceania. I don't think we are heading there; not yet. In the real world though, the only aspect of state politics which is not subject for debate is Sovereignty; the state Monopoly on Violence, if we don't have it, we don't have a state, the rest don't matter.

    May 3, 2010

  • Sami

    "There is a huge gap between people like me and the Ideology of HA and similar movements. I regard such ideologies as peril to humanity..."Sam,these are your words.You are saying that HA's ideology(among other similar ideologies)is a peril to humanity.In other comments you claim that HA is feeding the farmers poison. I do not see this as poison or a peril.HA is feeding our farmers a set of values that are called dignity,pride ,honor,national pride and self defense.HA demonstrated human values in its action during and immediately after the 2000 liberation.It handed over the Lebanese collaborators of all sects to the Lebanese army.It did not conduct field trials and executions similar to the French resistance actions which were viewed as inhumane.The collaborators in France were tarred an feathered with their heads shaved before they were executed.None of these actions were reported in 2000.Finally,Sam, you think HA is a poison and I think it is a cure,now what?How do we reach a consens

    May 2, 2010

  • Sami

    "Chloride is a chemical the human body needs for metabolism (the process of turning food into energy). It also helps keep the body's acid-base balance. The amount of chloride in the blood is carefully controlled by the kidneys."From Wikipedia.And from medecinnet.com is this:"Hypochloremia: Abnormally low blood chloride. Chloride is normally lost in the urine, sweat, and stomach secretions. Excessive loss can occur from heavy sweating, vomiting, and adrenal gland and kidney disease."Sam,enough science please(it is not your forte),let us do politics,my forte.

    May 2, 2010

  • sam

    Sami. You are putting words in my mouth. I didn't say HA is a peril to humanity by itself. I said "such ideologies" with an "s". There is no shortage of people around the world who think of their religious leaders and ideology as the most righteous, most merciful, self denying, pure godly, god sent, better than all others. There are a lot of people in this world who think of others who oppose them as mislead, or in other cases evil. The peril to humanity is in "absolute concepts" these ideologies promote. Sami, the same farmer who will kick me out of his house if i deny him table salt, is being convinced to eat chloride.

    May 1, 2010

  • Sami

    2-You keep mentioning N Korea and Syria's family rule in connection with HA implying that HA has similar hierarchy.As I mentioned before,HA has no family power hand downs,has free elections,does not murder innocent civilians,does not imprison even collaborators(they hand them over to our national army)do not execute Israeli spies and participate in two very weak ministries in this cabinet. Inspite of their ability to take over Lebanon in less than 8 hours they did not,but rather they handed over the Mustakbal and Ishtiraki positions to the army.Be realistic ,Sam,this is not the Kataeb during the '82 invasion.

    April 30, 2010

  • Sami

    1-Hanin has my vote too,male,female or even transgender as long as qualified.We are in agreement on the subject if secularism,but we are not in agreement on this statement:" I regard such ideologies as peril to humanity...".Sam,Sam, don't you think you went too far thinking that HA can possibly be a peril to humanity?I am amazed at how swiftly our people pick up a Western characterizations of someone or some party as dark.It all started with depicting the late Khomeini as a Hitler,then Saddam was characterized as a Hitler the minute he "improved" his SCUDs ability to reach Israel.Prior to this development he was considered a Western ally.Later on Ahmadinejad is another Hitler and now HA are a "peril to ALL humanity"? We,in the Arab world need to be original and invent our own characterisations of our politicians.Not every Western ideology can be applied to our unique culture or politics. we,at one time,exported culture to the West .

    April 30, 2010

  • sam

    2.Unless you want the world to know, there is no need to keep repeating, to me at least, how bad US backed regimes are. Simply because I know and I agree with you. I know the history, of Jabal Aamel Technical High School. There is no need, for example, to say that HA members are not corrupt while other Lebanese politicians are, this I know. But is it the issue?. There is a huge gap between people like me and the Ideology of HA and similar movements. I regard such ideologies as peril to humanity while corrupt politicians are symptoms of a defragmented society, an outcome, rather than an inbound spiraling danger. Final note: my naive “Secularism” would allow voting Mrs Ghaddar for president or a woman from the Assyrian minority. We dream on… Glad to have talked to you

    April 29, 2010

  • sam

    1.Sami, my referral to North Korea was only to say that such concepts as “Secularism” while intended to better the well fare of citizens in several liberal democracies, can also be adopted by North Korea and the Baathists in Syria to protect the ruling family insuring its grip on power. Taking it to the extreme, a criminal mafia structure can be secular. Forgive my mentioning of Kaddafi’s son and Beavis. I see that, somewhere in our exchanges, there is some fog. I know some about the history of the Shia, their scholars, their struggle, and their grievances in Lebanon as well as in the Arab world and under the Ottoman Empire. I also know a little about the Structure of HA . As individuals I like few of their cadres, Fnaiesh to name one. At the risk of sounding like an expert, I think Shia is one of the few religious sects which encourages free thoughts among its scholars. But is this really the issue here. Is it really to the benefit of Lebanese as citizens to say Secularism means only

    April 29, 2010

  • Sami

    I am assuming that "B" is Israel and "A" is HA.The logical conclusion from your premises is that "A" is NOT poisonous.Healthy or not is a matter of opinion .You opted to assert that HA is not healthy to Lebanon while I and more than half of Lebanon see just the opposite." Proving the US policy wrong, doesn’t mean HA have the right to vote with their Bayonets".Such statements,irresponsible and haphazardly thrown around,can not improve the scope of our discussion.In order to be realistic you must name at least one electoral district where HA used their bayonets to win an election.The last election was certified by local and international observers as fair and free;no one noticed bayonets anywhere . Tyranny(but not anarchy) was prevalent in Lebanon prior to Taef. Finally,I am not sure as to how sodium chloride is related to our discussion,but try to convince a farmer not to add salt to his food,I am sure he will chase you out of his house with "bayonets."

    April 29, 2010

  • sam

    “A” is assumed contradictory to B, “B” is proved poisonous, then “A” is sure healthy; this is a text book Fallacy. Hitler and Stalin were enemies. Proving the US policy wrong, doesn’t mean HA have the right to vote with their Bayonets. Sodium Chloride is addable and adds flavor to food, doesn't necessarily mean Chloride has the same effect; another text book Fallacy. Democracy means all citizens are equal before the law , have equal access to power, and guaranteed the right to free vote. Even if you take the “vote” part alone it has to be free. Having an armed group within a state is not a tarnish on democracy, a flaw of the democratic process, this is tyranny itself mixed with anarchy. Our Manifesto becomes: “Lebanon has the right to resist with its Army, Resistance, People, Housemaids, and ...eeeee Beavis”

    April 28, 2010

  • Sami

    3-A religion of peace yet hundreds of thousands were killed in its name.George W. had a personal relationship with God and was on first name basis with him.He consulted with God before he lunched his crusade against the people of Iraq.May be God forgot to mention to George that Iraq had no WMDs and had no connections to 9/11.I am hoping that Lebanon will ,one day,adopt a secular system where All can achieve their ambitions unhindered by their sect,nor helped by their sect.Pleasure exchanging ideas with you.

    April 28, 2010

  • Sami

    2-Senior members who are also elected themselves,contrary to all other Lebanese political parties that pass power from father to son to grand daughter etc.How does the Kaddafi regime or N Korea fit in this equation?I see no comparison what so ever.For every totalitarian regime you name I can name you 10 that are also totalitarian and supported by the USA.I hope,Sam that you are not saying that HA won its popularity among the Shiaa by guns and by "secret apparatus".The Shiaa are,since their establishment,revolutionary.Revolting against the established majority rule that not only marginalized them but also نكل بهم I bring your attention to Al Bahreen,where they constitute a majority yet they are ruled by a Sunni "king"(elected recently).An elected king?I never heard of such a democracy.Al Baath is secular, was founded by a Christian,(by theory) a minority in Syria.Islam is one thing in theory and another in practice,depending at where it is practiced.Christianity is a religion of peac

    April 28, 2010

  • Sami

    1-Sam,now where do I accuse those who are against HA as supporters of Israel.Al Mustakbal is against HA (or used to be?) so is Al Kaedah.You can not find this accusation in my comments anywhere.There are three camps in the Middle East at present.1-Al mumana3ah2-Al mukawameh.3-Al i3tidal.(المقاومة الممانعة الاعتدال I am not sure if it is by design or by coincident that No. 3 is in the same trench as the US and Israel.Egypt is under an emergency rule for the past 30 years and Mubarak keeps wining election after election yet his regime is labeled as "democratic" by the US and Israe l.Arabia never had an election and does not allow Christians to worship secretly or in public,no to mention the weekly beheading.I am not interested in debating democracy either but it is the rule of the majority,not the rule rule of majority BUT not HA's rule.HA conducted elections ,certified fair and free by international and local observers and won every seat.Its leadership is elected by a 300 senior..

    April 28, 2010

  • sam

    2.established a party and called it “The Democratic Party”…I’m not sure I can make up my mind as far as the way Lebanon should be. However what I’m sure about is what HA wants and it is very simple: parliamentary elections? We have the guns, we vote, we win, democracy? Same meaning, Secularism; means exactly the same like our democracy; the end result we win. Do i have an issue with any sect? none. Do i have an issue with any religion? none. Do i have an issue with HA, Nazis, Communists, Baathists, Zionists, and Saif Eddine Kaddafi? you bet i do. Everybody concerned about the future should.

    April 27, 2010

  • sam

    1.Sami, while I fully agree with your arguments on what concerns the US policy and Israel, I point your attention to the fact that you are assuming if one is against HA one is automatically a supporter of Israel or US policy. One of the reasons Lebanese people, especially Shias, should stand up to HA is such an assumption (not with us? you are with Israel). Israel and Islamic political parties, on a strategic level, bolster each other. I wish to avoid entering a debate on what is democracy. Certainly democracy is not having a religious political party with its own army and its own secret apparatus; and then let us count the votes. This is kind of voting took place in the Soviet Union, it takes place in Syria, and it used to take place in Iraq. The same goes for the argument that the Baathist in Syria are secular. I don’t know much about North Korea but I bet they are secular the same way, as long as they lay flowers at the feet of the “Beloved Leader”. Prince Talal Areslan of Lebanon

    April 27, 2010

  • Sami

    2-The minute the "Mujahedeen" turned against the West they were labeled as the "dark forces and the axis of evil".Let us not forget that Israel is "accepted" as Jewish state by the West.I feel that the Western phobia is only anti Islamic not anti religious rule.But Pro Islamic as long as this Islamic rule is pro West.I am not sure as to what does the West want anymore.Does it want a secular rule(the Baathists in Syria are secular) or does it want an Islamic rule as long as it is pro West.Sam,you need to make up your mind as far as Lebanon is concerned.Secularism/democracy where the most votes wins the elections or Democracy but no HA.Excluding a whole sect from the democracy game based on its perceived ideology is not democratic nor is it secular.I suspect that your call for secularism with a "BUT" attached to your call is unfair in the democratic process.

    April 27, 2010

  • Sami

    1-Sam,while evolution is the "rule"(survival) of the fittest or the strongest , democracy is the rule of the most numerous.We have to ask ourselves whether we want democracy in Lebanon or we want democracy "but not HA".We can not have our cake and eat it too.There are many examples of the rule of the strongest amongst them is the communist rule where it was estimated that only 10% of the former Soviet Union was communist.In the same sense there was a communist rule in Chile where Salvador Allende was elected by a majority of the votes although he was a communist.The end result was his death and was replaced by juntas totally supported by the US . I think it is not that HA is a "dark" party,it is that it opposes the American/Israeli plan for a "new Middle East".I direct your attention to the Saudi Islamic rule,is it not totally supported by the US?I also direct your attention to the Islamic resistance in Afghanistan . They were called Mujahedeen when they were fighting the Soviet union.

    April 27, 2010

  • sam

    2. any similar scenario on the part of the Shia will have the same outcome. Lebanese, Shias and Protestants alike, should, for the sake of their sons and daughters, oppose any religious or semi religious party seeking political power being it Shia, Maronite, Protestant, Hindu, etc…. Political religious parties seeking to rule let alone having a military structure, being Christians, Jewish, or Muslims, are back word pulling dark forces with a deceiving appeal. They impose grave danger on humans and humanity. If you think when Shaykh Naim Kasem -or “Reverend Jeremiah”- become the Supreme Guardian of the constitution of the Lebanese Republic, the Shia community would be better off, you are wrong. This scenario might appeal to some now, without knowing they would be favoring Mutation as opposed to positive Evolution.

    April 27, 2010

  • sam

    1. Sami, the failed state is “Lebanon” as a country and this is far from being my own description. The failure existed since the “Qaymmaqamia” in the 1840s, it expresses itself, every once in a while, by one religious sect or another trying to dominate. For such system to work the dominating religious sect (or the one trying to) has to expel the others or totally subdue them. One way or another the “sought after State” should go through homogenization of the citizens to achieve what might be called Monoculturalism. Your assumption that the Shias are the majority might well be wrong. It might be the Sunni who are the majority, and if they are not now, they might be in 20 years. Am I afraid of HA total control over Lebanon? an absolute yes. The same way the Maronite ruling elite brought catastrophes on the Christian Community in the first place,

    April 27, 2010

  • Sami

    Dr. Hassan Al Khaleel wrote in Al Akhbar today:" وأخيراً، أليس غريباً أمر المسيحيين الذين ينتقلون من حالة انتحارية إلى أخرى وواقعهم السياسي والاجتماعي يسوء باستمرار، فينبري مَن يحاول إعادة ترويج «الكانتون» أو «الحضارة المتميّزة» «خوفاً من المقاومة»، بينما زعاماتهم متغاضية عن كل فساد الإدارة والبلديات ومفاصل الدولة؟

    April 27, 2010

  • Sami

    Sam, it looks like the failed state you described exists presently.The only fear you have is that the state falling in the hands of the majority who happened to be Shiaa.If the majority were Protestants you would have no problem with that.I conclude that it is not secularism we are looking for,it is any system that is anti HA.No wonder HA refuses to disarm.

    April 26, 2010

  • داريوس حرب

    Mrs Ghadar , with all my respect to your choices and point of view , the Lebanese people are not yet ready for this step. the majority of lebanese are still very religious , they attend Churches and Mosques, they read the Bible and the Quran. a civil personal status law would contradict their religious constitutions and their identities.

    April 26, 2010

  • Fadi

    As a hardened anti-religious person I feel strange supporting, for the foreseeable future at least, a sectarian Lebanon. My reason is fears for my cultural identity, my way of life and my freedom of thought and expression. Unfortunately, looking at our sick political landscape, I have no reason to believe that a secular Lebanon would remain secular for long. I strongly suspect that in no time it would become, for example, Hizballah Lebanon, and that many things we take now for granted (in non-hizballah controled regions) would soon be banned. Our system sucks. It is far from perfect. However fear and lack of guarantees will make me try to block cynical attempts to change the current system. These attempts are just a trap. I would welcome though civil reforms such as civil marriage.

    April 26, 2010

  • sam

    Sami a twisted democracy is the one which says that the numerical superiority of a religious sect should dictate who rule. The essence is equality. A failed state is exactly where members of the society feels obliged to always defend and safe guard the interest of the religious sect they belong to. A failed state is where members in that state feel the government belonged to other religion and it is time to belong to them. We have few evidences of failure the latest of which is a 20 year civil war with an appendix which is still going on. Rest assured that nobody can deny HA the right to control the state; they are already there not by numerical superiority rather by a military one.

    April 25, 2010

  • Sami

    2-Suppose,for the sake of argument,that the Shiaa community was not "overwhelmingly controlled by HA and Amal" ,would anyone , then object to the call to abolish sectarianism?I imagine not.These objections are driven by a political agenda that aims at denying HA and Amal the right to ever "control the state" at the expense of "minorities",while the real loser would be democracy not minorities.The 1932 census declared the Marooni sect as a majority according to France and thus were granted the power to rule based on their numbers while disregarding the rights of the other minorities.Two points may result from this1- Either it is democratic to allow the largest sect to rule.2- Or the minorities rights were not disregarded back in 1932.Either proposition is advantageous to the Shiaa community.The rule, that the largest should rule,was true in 1932 and should be true now.Hanin is,in effect, saying that this rule of 1932 does not apply because HA and Amal control the Shiaa community.

    April 25, 2010

  • Sami

    1-"The primary benefactors of the abolition of political sectarianism would be the Shia, demographically the largest community in Lebanon, who overwhelmingly side with Hezbollah and Amal."This is true;the only reason,undeclared so far, is the mere possibility that the Shiaa community may reach power in Lebanon . Although Hanin admits that they are the largest sect in Lebanon ,she still wants to deny them the possibility of reaching power,is that not contrary to democracy?Does democracy not call for the candidate that receives the most number of votes to rule ? This is scary in the 21 st century,that we should impede the progress of democracy because we are afraid that a certain sect or a certain ethnic group may reach power regardless of their numbers.It takes a village to raise a child,and it takes centuries to erase political and social educations from the inner consciousness of people.We can not afford to wait centuries for the abolition of this sectarian defunct system.

    April 25, 2010

  • sam

    The major obstacle blocking the idea of Lebanon from becoming a real state entity is sectarianism. For the last 130 years Mount Lebanon and later Lebanon had at least 5 strifes along sectarian lines. Lately the authorities, in a “bold move”, decided to remove the sect from ID cards. Instead of having it written it became bar coded. Sectarianism itself should be abolished rather than political sectarianism. The culture of us and them based on sectarian divisions creates social entities more profound than the state itself.If sectarianism is not dealt with, melitia check points in the next sure to come civil strife, will be carrying water-proof Bar Code Readers.

    April 25, 2010

  • Elie Mounir

    Ms.Ghaddar, First of all, remove your religion from the registry. Second of all you really don't think much of the Lebanese people or are surrounded by hardenend bigots, for many Lebanese get to know you first before blaming you for the July 2006 War....Most people do know that many Shia are not die hard Hizballah supporters...

    April 25, 2010