I’m quite sure not even a Maronite Patriarch could have pulled off such a gem. Technically, they do have a right to, given that the “glory of Lebanon has been bestowed upon him” (“مجد لبنان أعطي له”). Then again, some Christians could have come up with this too, because as some of them have told me (half serious, half jokingly): Christians (read Maronites) created Lebanon, they have the right to destroy it, and if we extrapolate, they could be the only ones to save it as well…
In any case, here is the article that is today’s talk of the town in Lebanon, an article so unbelievable that it looks like an April Fool’s joke. An article so devoid of any historical, sociological, and political substance that, as one commentator noted, needed a disclaimer that is almost as long as the article itself. It is difficult to find a place to start to comment and hard not to comment at all.
But let me be clear. My response aims to be “professional and not personal,” as the author herself hoped her critics would keep the level of debate. My response also emanates from a blog, and it is also a “blog post and therefore it is an opinion,” just as the author notes as if in defense of her thoughts. Yet having an opinion and publishing it in the public sphere isn’t a license to be immune from criticism, to be irresponsible nor inaccurate. We have listened to you, Ms. Elali, now kindly, listen to us…
I am not quite sure anybody, at this point, believes Lebanon is an independent republic. The Lebanese are not “bullshitted” very easily, even if they pretend to be so. But let’s not get into those small little details. The fact of the matter is that, even though you consider yourself as belonging to the “select few” who truly believe in a secular Lebanon, you are playing right into the hands of those that benefit from disseminating this very same poison: that the Lebanese “fear one another,” that they “cannot coexist with each other,” or that the “majority of Lebanese people secretly wish that the other party would suffer and die.” The history of Lebanon is the biggest example that this is historically false. Yes, sectarianism has grown stronger in the past years, and many do identify with their sects and often do not respect the opinion of others, but framing this as some innate physical trait of “the majority of Lebanese,” or even worse as a “Muslim” trait, is quite…well, let’s just say, preposterous. I invite you to have a conversation with a group of “Christian” Lebanese. You’ll find that they can be similar to their fellow “Muslims,” many of them don’t have “independent thoughts or positions,” and…no no, I will not get dragged into such a debate.
Ms. Elali, it saddens me that we are even having such a debate. That at this point in time, after all this country has gone through, the young generation, the future of this country, is still buying into the beliefs that have torn this country apart, beliefs from which the same political class that “rules” us has benefited from for generations to keep itself in power. It is sad that people still believe that it is religion that keeps us apart in Lebanon, and not how certain factions, ALL factions, use this same religion to keep people apart. It is also, to say the least, racist, to view the majority of “Muslims” as puppets, that have no word, and that are played by foreign countries against one another. Life, and geopolitics, is slightly more complex than that. And believe me, I do not want any “Christian” or “Muslim” working hard to give me the secular and civil state that I dream of. I want a Lebanese – who happens to be Shia, Maronite, Sunni, Catholic, Orthodox, Druze or Buddhist on his/her identification papers – to help me get to that state.
Lebanon doesn’t belong to any church nor mosque. It belongs to the Lebanese. They certainly tried to destroy it, in the names of religion and many other things. But if we are worth a single inch of our 10,452 km2, it should be the Lebanese that try to save it too. There are many of those around, believe me, and they’d be happy to meet you and discuss this issue further.
You noted your happiness that your post “has generated such a debate, especially when many things were left unsaid.” Well, I guess we truly hit the jackpot here. Eye on the East has been, since 2011, “following Lebanon & the Arab World so that nothing is left unsaid.“