|Beirut cityscape © younesdory|
Every time I think I’ve made my peace with the dysfunctionaly of Lebanon, something new comes up that makes my blood boil. Most recently, it’s been the parliament’s approval of the new electoral law whereby people can only vote for candidates of their own sectarian faith in the general elections. As always, this law was passed because of petty calculations amongst political groups to help them garner more parliamentary seats, but what it actually does it take confessional segregation to a new level. Now Maronite Christians can only vote for Maronite Christian candidates, Sunnite Moslems for Sunnite Moslem candidates, Shiites for Shiites, Orthodox for Orthodox, Druze for Druze and so on. I don't know which of the political parties pushed for this law, nor do I care, but this means that no one will ever think beyond their little tribe and each of us will remain in our head a member of our sectarian community, not a citizen of the Republic of Lebanon.
Saddest of all is that this seems to be acceptable to most of the population. Essentially, the people of Lebanon have learnt nothing. Decades of war and conflict haven’t done anything to teach us that this system DOES NOT WORK, that, to build a proper state that has a chance of ever making progress, where public services work, where there is a viable economy we need to demand a nation where everyone is equal under the same laws and where these laws are respected. Everyone repeats this slogan but when push comes to shove, they fall back behind their archaic boundaries.
We’ve proven time and again that no matter how many opportunities History puts on our path, we simply don’t want to build a nation. To those of us who truly want civil society and the rule of law, Lebanon remains an attainable dream. We are a minority, the majority of people living in Lebanon (I will not call them Lebanese because they don’t deserve to be called that) are happy with the way things are.