Is a non-sectarian system truly the way to Lebanon's salvation?

AtheistForJesus

AtheistForJesus

Well-Known Member
In his last speech, Aoun said Lebanon must change from a confessional to a civil state.

With the presence of an Islamist militia like Hizbullah, and a Muslim majority that derives its laws from Sharia (Tripoli and Sour alcohol ban anyone?), do you truly believe that a non-sectarian system is truly the way to Lebanon's salvation? Or does the confessional system still provide a sense of security to Lebanon's non-Muslim sects?
 
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  • Ice Tea

    Ice Tea

    Active Member
    Would a secular system work with other Middle Eastern Muslims? There's your answer. Lebanese Muslims are just as Islamist and violent as other Arab Muslims. If actually not more, because I don't think there's any other Muslim group where 90% support an Islamic terrorist organization like Lebanon's Shias.
     
    AtheistForJesus

    AtheistForJesus

    Well-Known Member
    Would a secular system work with other Middle Eastern Muslims? There's your answer. Lebanese Muslims are just as Islamist and violent as other Arab Muslims. If actually not more, because I don't think there's any other Muslim group where 90% support an Islamic terrorist organization like Lebanon's Shias.
    I think there are pros and cons to a secular system.

    On one hand, I believe that in a society where everyone is treated equally regardless of their sect, people will feel more secure and self-dependent, and less reliant on their sect leaders for protection and survival. Hiring/promotions/scholarships would be based on merit, not political allegiance or religious affiliation.

    But on the other hand, I know Muslims are too fond of their Sharia laws. That's the case in most Muslim-majority countries.
    Even in traditionally secular countries like Turkey, Islamism is on the rise again.
     
    Orange Patriot

    Orange Patriot

    Well-Known Member
    Nice initiative Athiest. It’s a discussion we need to start having. I’m disappointed that after all the country has been through in the last few days, let alone years, as well as the speech by Aoun, that this thread is barren.

    my opinion:

    It’s time. It’s time we finally do this. And... we are prepared for it now.
    Its taken us 77 years but I think we can now start to truly see people forget their sectarian identities in favor of a higher national identity. Aoun is truly correct in saying that it is an imperative first step before and legislative change.
    So yes we are ready. Is it the way to Lebanon’s salvation? Hell yes. There is no better evidence for that than the entire modern history of Lebanon since it’s independence, never mind the last 40 years of civil war plus postwar. Sectarianism is the cause of our present state of affairs.
    The confessional system was a caretaker system. A good one at first. Apt for its time. Now... it is sorely out of date in 2019, in an era were the world at large is more global and more accepting of each other.

    We are not the only country in the world with such diversity, yet we are the only one that maintains this confessional divvying up of governmental control. I don’t need to deep dive into the sicknesses that such a system has inflicted on the country, clientelism among them, for us to conclude that the present system does. Not. Work.

    Exactly what structure or form a civil state system would have to take needs to be discussed by greater minds. I have seen some interesting suggestions of a bicameral parliament were only the senate retains some of that confessional “protection”. It’s an interesting way of applying the principal of guaranteeing the rights of smaller states in the US to that of guaranteeing the interests of all confessions, regardless of population.
     
    The_FPMer

    The_FPMer

    Active Member
    So yes we are ready. Is it the way to Lebanon’s salvation? Hell yes. There is no better evidence for that than the entire modern history of Lebanon since it’s independence, never mind the last 40 years of civil war plus postwar. Sectarianism is the cause of our present state of affairs.
    The confessional system was a caretaker system. A good one at first. Apt for its time. Now... it is sorely out of date in 2019, in an era were the world at large is more global and more accepting of each other.
    How will a secular system eradicate sectarianism? The US along with European countries are all secular multicultural societies. Were they able to diminish identity politics?
     
    Aoune32!

    Aoune32!

    Well-Known Member
    How will a secular system eradicate sectarianism? The US along with European countries are all secular multicultural societies. Were they able to diminish identity politics?
    peoples heads will change walaw. the system is the issue not people who were cursing mikati and now after 13 days love him.
     
    Chanklish

    Chanklish

    Active Member
    it will never happen .. there is a difference in culture , mindset , way of life between religions
    how can hizballah exist in a secular state ?!
     
    AtheistForJesus

    AtheistForJesus

    Well-Known Member
    it will never happen .. there is a difference in culture , mindset , way of life between religions
    how can hizballah exist in a secular state ?!
    Don't you believe that the sectarian system is contributing to the radicalization of young people?
    When people feel they're being discriminated against on religious grounds, they become convinced that their sect's leader is their sole protector.
    For instance, the Shiites used to be more secular prior to the rise of Hizbullah.
    The fact that they were marginalized for years and abandoned by the state has led to the creation of Amal and Hizbullah.
    Hizbullah acted as a state within a state and offered these people services in return for their loyalty to the resistance.

    In a state where everyone is treated equally, I believe that the reliance on one's sect leaders will automatically decrease.
     
    C

    CK10452

    New Member
    Though the confessional system certainly does contribute to sectarianism, it is not the source of sectarianism. The people are sectarian by nature, not just in Lebanon, but the whole region. The only difference a system of government will do, whether it be confessionalism, secular democracy, dictatorship or monarchy, is change the power balance between the sects. People will not magically become secular politically just because we have a secular system of government on paper. Don't let the recent protests fool you, as encouraging as they are, not all protesters were united in the same vision for the county and many more people did not protest. It took Europeans many centuries of cultural progression, war, violent revolution and failure before they arrived at a certain stage of cultural development that made secular democracy successful in their countries. This system of government has been successful implemented in some non-European countries but has failed in many others. I don't believe Lebanon, or most of our region, has reached the level of cultural progression to make a secular democracy successful and to protect the rights of all minorities.

    I also strongly believe there should be no serious talk about implementing a secular system until the sectarian militia HA is disarmed. A heavily armed sectarian militia with popular support within it's own sectarian community is not conductive for a healthy secular democracy. Considering the overwhelming support for HA from Shiites and then including its support from some within the Sunni and Christian communities, if we held secular elections today it will essentially mean handing over total control of Lebanon to the most sectarian of all parties. HA will then have all the power and authority to use the "secular system" to introduce not so secular laws. Sure there may still be opposition, assuming HA will respect the system, but we would be looking at a HA dominated government for the long term, which will not be in the best interest of the Christians or the country as a whole.

    Having stated all the above, I still strongly support reforming our current system, to make it fairer, more equitable, less sectarian where it does not need to be, more transparent, less prone to corruption and a more workable form of government that can pass legislation. I also believe the system of government should continue to evolve in pace with society. Once (if) we arrive at the stage of cultural development that supports a secular democracy, I believe the whole country will know it and there will be virtually no one left to defend keeping the confessional system. However we still have a long journey before we arrive at that stage.

    In the mean time I support reforms that might include:

    - Decentralisation
    - A non-sectarian parliament, but with a senate with sectarian quotas, to insure no laws are passed to the detriment of another community.
    - Secular civil law
    - A rotation of sects between the President, Prime Minister and Speaker.
    - Or abolish sectarian positions for the Prime Minister and Speaker altogether, and just have a rotation for the position of President but with more presidential powers.
     
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    NAFAR

    NAFAR

    Well-Known Member
    PMA in has last speech clearly defined the first step to evolve to a secular state is an unified personal status law.
    The first challenge is that Muslims accept to have a unified personal status law that is not derived from Shari3a...... which will not happen in a million year........and PMA knows it very well.
    So the only solution left is the decentralization- which is already in Taef- which will evolve naturally in the right time to federalism.
     
    Ice Tea

    Ice Tea

    Active Member
    it will never happen .. there is a difference in culture , mindset , way of life between religions
    how can hizballah exist in a secular state ?!
    True. And proof is we feel right at home amongst other MENA Christians like Assyrians and Copts, whereas the culture and way of life of a Muslim, even if he lives in the same village, seem totally foreign for us. Religious background is the most important factor by far of one's culture, and there's nothing that will ever change that.

    Islamists love to call Middle Eastern Christians (and especially Lebanese Christians) wannabe Europeans. When the reality is Western/European culture is 90% derived from Christianity. Of course we also feel closer to Europeans than to our Muslim 'neighbors'.
     
    Mighty Goat

    Mighty Goat

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    Though the confessional system certainly does contribute to sectarianism, it is not the source of sectarianism. The people are sectarian by nature, not just in Lebanon, but the whole region. The only difference a system of government will do, whether it be confessionalism, secular democracy, dictatorship or monarchy, is change the power balance between the sects. People will not magically become secular politically just because we have a secular system of government on paper. Don't let the recent protests fool you, as encouraging as they are, not all protesters were united in the same vision for the county and many more people did not protest. It took Europeans many centuries of cultural progression, war, violent revolution and failure before they arrived at a certain stage of cultural development that made secular democracy successful in their countries. This system of government has been successful implemented in some non-European countries but has failed in many others. I don't believe Lebanon, or most of our region, has reached the level of cultural progression to make a secular democracy successful and to protect the rights of all minorities.

    I also strongly believe there should be no serious talk about implementing a secular system until the sectarian militia HA is disarmed. A heavily armed sectarian militia with popular support within it's own sectarian community is not conductive for a healthy secular democracy. Considering the overwhelming support for HA from Shiites and then including its support from some within the Sunni and Christian communities, if we held secular elections today it will essentially mean handing over total control of Lebanon to the most sectarian of all parties. HA will then have all the power and authority to use the "secular system" to introduce not so secular laws. Sure there may still be opposition, assuming HA will respect the system, but we would be looking at a HA dominated government for the long term, which will not be in the best interest of the Christians or the country as a whole.

    Having stated all the above, I still strongly support reforming our current system, to make it fairer, more equitable, less sectarian where it does not need to be, more transparent, less prone to corruption and a more workable form of government that can pass legislation. I also believe the system of government should continue to evolve in pace with society. Once (if) we arrive at the stage of cultural development that supports a secular democracy, I believe the whole country will know it and there will be virtually no one left to defend keeping the confessional system. However we still have a long journey before we arrive at that stage.

    In the mean time I support reforms that might include:

    - Decentralisation
    - A non-sectarian parliament, but with a senate with sectarian quotas, to insure no laws are passed to the detriment of another community.
    - Secular civil law
    - A rotation of sects between the President, Prime Minister and Speaker.
    - Or abolish sectarian positions for the Prime Minister and Speaker altogether, and just have a rotation for the position of President but with more presidential powers.
    In a secular system of government people do not have to change, but the law, the legal system and the political: executive, legislative and judiciary should be separated from confession and confessional quotas and distribution. It is the confessionalism of the system that brings corruption and not the confessionalism of the people. People can have a confession and practice heir religion in their respective churches, mosques, and synagogues away from the state.

    All Christians will continue to go to the Church and the Patriarch is not going anywhere in a secular system of government but instead of dealing with politics he will deal with al-Ra3iyah.
     
    cedarheart

    cedarheart

    Well-Known Member
    Interesting thread, some interesting inputs! I hope we can all keep an educated and civilized discussion here away from personal attacks, partisanship, accusations, and political BS.
    It’s also disappointing that this thread has been almost silent with only few replies compared to other threads where members spend most of their time “hating each other’s”


    To answer the thread’s question, we should probably first define what would be “Lebanon’s salvation”? I do not think ALL Lebanese agree on a single form of the “salvation”.

    Nevertheless, I would like to through in my humble opinion here based on my personal perspective of salvation: a democratic State where ALL citizens are free and are equal in rights, duties, and opportunities. A State capable of guaranteeing its citizens rights and freedoms. A society living in peace, thriving economically, scientifically, environmentally, and culturally.

    Can the above statement be achieved in a confessional system? Absolutely not! From the start, a confessional system is in contradiction with that statement as it denies certain opportunities to a group of persons because of their religious beliefs. Especially minorities who find themselves with almost no opportunity at all.

    Then is secularism the answer? Honestly, this question opens a can of worms! How secular is secular? How far do you go in applying it? Can a secular State function as such while the vast majority of its political parties are confessional and some with confessional agendas and ideologies? Would the majority of Lebanese accept that their clergymen be requested to stay away from politics? Would they accept that some religious institutions be separated from the State, and for Lebanon to withdraw form international religious political organizations?
    Secularism cannot be applied as a ruse or at high levels only. If we remove it from the texts, it will remain in the practices and might even get worse! For it to work, we should go all in and change the society from deep within starting from school curriculums.

    From a political perspective, the sectarian system was in part relied upon as a method allowing all different confessions to keep each other in check. We know very well what that system developed into. Some suggest that that in order to keep that check and balance system, a confessional Senate will be created when the sectarian system is abolished. I personally find this as keeping the same problem but renaming it! Moving the sectarian “za3im” from parliament to the Senate! During elections, we expect people to be secular when they vote for MP but sectarian when they vote for the senator, this is absurd!

    Lately we keep hearing some saying that the sectarian system has created a network of “za3im” who control everything in the country. I beg to differ on the causes! Sectarianism may have facilitated that but it is not the root cause of this issue. This order of clientelism is observed in many poor countries even the most secular of them. Its root causes are lack of democratic practice, weak judiciary and cultural behaviours. To these I would add Lebanon's weak democracy and its failure to renew itself! In our society, even if we turn magically to secular society, clientelism will remain. While I fully support a secular state, I personally think that ending clientelism should also be a priority in order to achieve "salvation".

    The solution? Don't have yet, but have idea and sorry, in our situation there is no solution but a radical one:

    • New law governing political parties:
      • Force political parties to hold internal elections periodically managed by an independent committee.
      • Prohibit political inheritance of parties
      • Split parties into 2 categories: National and regional. The national parties are those who can get 5 or 10% of the vote in each caza, the rest are to be considered regional. The electoral law would then favour national parties in terms of seats allocation, media exposure, budget, etc.
    • Impose term limits on president, ministers, mps, prime minister, and speaker
    • New rules on who can run for elections or be appointed minister: the person should not be the direct relative of a current MP, president, minister nor the direct relative of a president, MP, or minister whose mandate ended less than 12 years ago
    • Secular Civil law governing personal affairs (marriage, succession, divorce, etc)
    • Independent judicial system and a reinforcement of the law criminalizing hate speech
    • Real separation of powers
    • Decentralization and administrative reform: Abolishing the governorate system (mohafaza), abolishing the posts of Qaim Maqam. Each caza to be managed by an elected council responsible of managing local affairs within the constitution and a national secular agenda
    This is my manifesto lol! I know, impossible to implement...

    Looking forward to read more of your opinions, ideas, point of views, etc.
     
    D

    damascus

    New Member
    Lebanon is the only country in the middle East where Christians are not dhimmis. And it should stay that way. Lebanon is the only safe country for middle East Christians.
     
    H

    HalaMadrid

    Active Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    Thoughtful and thought provoking. I have to play devil's advocate a bit here and disagree with the contention that Lebanon's ills are from its confessional system, though. I don't think the demographic makeup of any type of system leads to lack of democracy, lack of corruption or anything else. Would a quota system that requires a certain amount of women/black/Latinx/LGBTQ etc lead to corruption in the West? I'd argue no. It creates a balance of power where a minority group has both real power and the perception of protection. Both of those things are important. To my mind, it's the checks and balances or lack thereof that lead to the dysfunction of a system like Lebanon. I don't really have a dog in the fight of maintaining the confessional system or not. If it contributes to some measure of societal harmony, so be it. If Lebanon erased its confessional system tomorrow and instituted a one person one vote system, without any accountability measures, it ends up in the exact same place as the day before, but with many groups lacking representation.

    To me, the most meaningful way forward is reforming the system by instituting within it measures for transparent and open governance that can eliminate any need for the individual's relationship to the state to be based on sect (even if their representatives continue to be on that basis).

    For example:

    - all hiring for state jobs (aside from ministers and immediate aides) through a meritocratic, open, competitive system
    -placement of inspectors general in each ministry, fully staffed with separate offices from the agencies to carry out oversight functions of each agency and release public reporting regularly
    -passing of whistleblower protection laws
    -overhaul of the justice system and appointment of judges through a transparent process with vetting by non-aligned non-profit organizations
    -strict limits on pensions and their accumulation
    -anti-nepotism and anti-lobbying laws
    -instituting an open, competitive transparent process for all government contracts. All calls for proposals must be detailed and cannot be tailored to any one contractor. Finalists' proposals should be posted publicly.
    -passing personal status laws that ensure citizens' relationship to the state is not based on sect: civil marriage, civil adoption, etc.

    On elections:

    -Creation of an electoral commission that oversees local and national elections. Its powers should be modeled after any European state's electoral commission. No contributions above a certain amount, all contributions reported through a verifiable system, all spending must be transparent, etc.
    -empowering oversight committees within parliament with subpoena powers

    These are modest start for transparent governance, but a start nonetheless. And they're achievable.

    On the political end, regardless of what happens with the confessional system, I've seen a lot of folks here and elsewhere proposing a confessional upper house (senate) and a non-confessional lower house. If anything, I would think the opposite. The upper house is meant to rise above the fray, the experts and deliberators, if you will. And the lower house is the representative of the people (the one person one vote institution, voice of the people).

    Either way, I don't think the fight with the confessional system is the most meaningful one to end corruption, tribalism, interpersonal sectarianism, or any other of society's ills. Corruption can plague even the world's least confessional system. Fear mongering is not limited to sectarian system (Hello from the country where we're told on a daily basis that central american immigrants are going to steal our jobs and kill our children). BTW, how are things over in non-confessional Russia in terms of corruption these days ;)

    Ending the sectarian system is fine as a slogan to paper over a deeper problem. It would be tantamount to burying our head in the sand if we pretend like it's going to do anything to end Lebanon's governance issues. (I also think it dismisses the real and perceived fears of fellow citizens and calls for ending sectarianism fail to provide contextual and historical analyses of the country and take into account geopolitical realities, but that's neither here nor there in this particular discussion).
     
    Leb_Rebel

    Leb_Rebel

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    Yes and no.

    As many said, the confessional system today is an enabler but not the root cause.

    The Lebanese are particularly selfish and fickle because the mostly vote for those who will "help them". Education is the only way to change mentalities and have them understand that if the state functions properly, they will not need help :
    - What is the role of an MP ? -> not to provide khadamet
    - What is the role of a Minister ? the cabinet director of a minister ? -> not to hire you and your family.
    - What are the different judicial bodies ? -> not to help you when you have problems with the law.
    - HOW TO HOLD PUBLIC SERVANTS ACCOUNTABLE !!!

    Changing the electoral law and the confessional system will shift the za3im territories, representations might change but at the end of the day, the system root cause of corruption which is the mentality. A za3im can be of your sect or no, that's why even PSP, Amal & FM have supporters from different sects -> They can provide services and employment.

    In parallel of education you need :
    - Strong judiciary
    - Strong press : We don't talk enough about how the Lebanese press is a complete accomplice of the system. As the 4th power/estate, they have a major role in the political system from a social perspective. Today they don't fulfill their role, as each one of them has a stake in the system.

    There's a vicious cycle in that all of the improvements are in the hands of those who have everything to lose if those improvements take place.
     
    D

    dyyyy

    Well-Known Member
    I think there are pros and cons to a secular system.

    On one hand, I believe that in a society where everyone is treated equally regardless of their sect, people will feel more secure and self-dependent, and less reliant on their sect leaders for protection and survival. Hiring/promotions/scholarships would be based on merit, not political allegiance or religious affiliation.

    But on the other hand, I know Muslims are too fond of their Sharia laws. That's the case in most Muslim-majority countries.
    Even in traditionally secular countries like Turkey, Islamism is on the rise again.
    When you think of Muslim countries you should also explore Malaysia and Indonesia... The reason middle eastern countries are radical is not because of Muslims, it's because of the state of war that is always present in this region, and Lebanon can be an exception.
     
    Mighty Goat

    Mighty Goat

    Legendary Member
    Orange Room Supporter
    hen is secularism the answer? Honestly, this question opens a can of worms! How secular is secular? How far do you go in applying it? Can a secular State function as such while the vast majority of its political parties are confessional and some with confessional agendas and ideologies? Would the majority of Lebanese accept that their clergymen be requested to stay away from politics? Would they accept that some religious institutions be separated from the State, and for Lebanon to withdraw form international religious political organizations?
    In a secular system of government you can have confessional parties. These parties are governed by constitutional and secular laws where they cannot make their ideology the ideology of the state because the state is de facto governed by secular laws.
    In fact in a secular state it is near impossible in Lebanon to win a majority by any confession. This is because we will see that secular parties will form new political entities that are not based on confession and these new parties will collect voters from the existing confessional parties voters as well as the silent majority.
    The clergy men can stay and people are free if they want to follow Sharia in their private affairs, but the administration does not go through the Jaafari or Sunni Courts but civil courts and civil laws.

    In Canada Muslims that want to apply Sharia for their inheritance can do that by writing a will stating the terms of the inheritance to be as per the distribution promulgated by the Sharia law of the person's sect at a lawyer's office this will is governed by the state civil laws. Now the religious and confessional person as an individual followed his/her sharia in private but the public law that administers the will is a secular law based on civil laws.
     
    Ice Tea

    Ice Tea

    Active Member
    When you think of Muslim countries you should also explore Malaysia and Indonesia... The reason middle eastern countries are radical is not because of Muslims, it's because of the state of war that is always present in this region, and Lebanon can be an exception.
    Both are barbaric (especially Indonesia), just not as barbaric as middle eastern countries. The reason they are not as barbaric is both countries have a strong Buddhist/Christian influence. The closest one get to a 100% Islamic society, like most middle eastern countries, the more violent and barbaric they'll be.
     
    Aoune32!

    Aoune32!

    Well-Known Member
    For me it is not the system. It is due to the politicians minds and how they work. They just want it all and won't give up. For them the state is like a bank which can be milked for others the state is what protects them. Country m3a2ade due to the 18 sects mawjoude fiya. that is why time for the central gov to take a rest and implement a senate and admin decentralisation. If the people vote for WJ in Chouf-Aley let them handle him. I do not need to.
     
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