Let’s Talk About The Rights of Lebanese Christians

Lebanese Christians are worried nowadays about their constitutional also known as God-given rights of having a firm grasp on political power again. They want to vote for their half of parliament, they want to restore the powers of the president, they want to be the tipping balance between the ongoing Shia-Sunni feud.

They want their right to their “former” glory.

This “need” to feel more relevant politically stems from a conviction that’s rising among Christians lately that their presence in Lebanon is threatened.
I have no idea where they get these ideas from to be quite honest. Even if Islamists end up ruling Syria, even if the devil himself ends up ruling Syria, their presence in the country is not threatened one bit by those bad Muslims, especially not the Muslims of Lebanon who, whether we want to admit it or not, share our same woes.

While admittedly the past 23 years have been quite harsh on this section of the Lebanese population and some things need to be fixed when it comes to their status in Lebanon especially when it comes to political representation, is political isolation really the solution for the Lebanese Christian predicament? Is our politicians counting the number of Christian voters across the country really in our interest?

Are our rights as Christians really only summed up in us wanting to vote for 50% of an arguably stillborn parliament with members who don’t care about said rights to begin with outside of electoral-sectarian-fuel purposes? What is better for us as Christians, to vote for 64 useless parliament members without any qualifications just because of their “services,” their “name,” or their “political affiliation” just because it’s our “right” or to vote for less than 64 but actually qualified parliament members?

I find it ironic that Lebanese Christians want everyone to accept that the country’s president is one of them to rule over everyone else. But they can’t fathom how everyone else (Muslims) can get to choose a few of their MPs.

But I digress.

Is it my “right” as a Maronite from the North to choose the Maronite MP of Jezzine, an area I’ve never ever visited? Is it the right of a Maronite from Jezzine to choose my MP in the North just because he’s Maronite?
What does an MP’s sect have to do with guaranteeing rights? Why does an MP’s sect automatically means that person represents me? Does that restore our rights? Or does it violate them even more? Is an MP’s sect an automatic indication of their will to work, of their qualifications?

Is this how we get proper representation? Is this how we get “our rights?” Are “our rights” only summed up by having an MP from our corresponding religion represent us?

But yes, we, as Christians, do have rights that need to be accepted and acknowledged. We have the right to:

Better roads: this (click here) is the current state of the main road in Batroun. It is my right as a Lebanese citizen first and foremost and as inhabitant of the region to have a decent road for my car. My Christian Maronite representatives are not providing me with this.

Healthcare: how many decent hospitals do we have across the country? I can name three or four. And they are all in Beirut. Fact of the matter is most “Christian” areas have shortages in the healthcare system while it is our “right” to have a decent system to take care of us. I’ll take this even further: how many Christians in Lebanon cannot afford hospitalization due to rising costs? Isn’t it our “right” for a universal healthcare system to take care of us? I don’t see any “Christian” MP advocating this.

Electricity: here comes the broken record again. Isn’t it our right in the 21st century to have more than 12 hours of electricity per day? Isn’t it our right not to have to pay two electricity bills per month just because our “Christian” ministries can’t even do a good job?

Water: Beirut and Lebanon’s roads were flooded last week with water from the biggest storm to hit the country in years. A few days later, we were out of water. Is that acceptable? Isn’t it my “right” not to have water shortages in a country that’s arguably beyond rich in the substance?

Internet: Don’t we, as Christians, have the right for decent Internet access in the 21st century? Shouldn’t we have access to speeds that don’t die whenever it rains, whenever it heats, whenever anything odd happens? Shouldn’t we have the right for a better infrastructure that’s installed and provided to us without corruption, without political propaganda and surely without us having to overpay for it?

Security & Military Wings: Who among our “Christian” MPs is really working to boost security in this country? Who among our already-voted representatives can truly ensure our right for safety, our right not to become collateral damage due to some explosion somewhere? Who among our politicians is ensuring that some families don’t have military wings to threaten other people with?

Wasta: isn’t it also my right to have the same chances for employment, for university admissions, for a proper life as the sons and daughters of our “Christian” MPs and ministers? Isn’t my right not to have to worry about being excluded from something I’m more than qualified to get into just because some other candidate knows someone who pulled some strings for him or her?

Women: shouldn’t our Christian women be given the right to pass on the nationality to their children? Don’t they have the right to a state that protects them from abuse? Don’t they have the right for civil regulations that protect their rights?

State of Law: isn’t it my right as a Christian to expect the non-smoking ban to be applied everywhere, not to have our tourism police in a deal with restaurants to violate the ban? Isn’t it my right as a Christian not to worry about people violating every single form of driving laws, of every single law known to man in this country? Don’t I have the right to live in a lawful state?

You know what’s the interesting thing about our “Christian” rights? They’re also the rights of those “Muslims” that we love to hate. They have the same rights in this country as we do. And they need their rights as much as we need ours.

We blame Lebanon’s Muslims of being blinded and of voting in sectarian ways to the same parties without any convincing reason. But it seems we have forgotten that we aren’t voting for reforms and qualifications as well, but to people who give us the same sense of belonging, the same sense of safety – to the same people who offer us a service a couple of days before elections and then forget about us for four years before they give us the allusion of fighting for “our rights” when the going gets tough.

Is it our Christian “right” to have a bigger say in our representatives? Perhaps so. After all, this is how Lebanon is made up. But it is our duty to have our say in these representatives count – in making sure that these representatives advocate for our rights as much as the rights of others who are not “of us.”

It is our right not to live in fear all the time. It is our duty not to blindly allow our politicians to make us afraid of everything else all the time.

The biggest threat to Lebanese Christians today isn’t the growing extremism around them, it’s the absolute neglect that they get from those representatives that we already voted for which leads us to leave the country and lose hope in it.

The biggest threat to Lebanese Christians are national policies which lead to the impoverishment of most of Lebanon while the focus is on making only select places more cosmopolitan. The latter areas become more liberal. The former areas fall into extremism and poverty and we panic about those “big bad Muslims” of Akkar and Bab el Tebbane being after us.

The biggest threat to Lebanese Christians today isn’t that we don’t vote for a full list of 64 Christian MPs. It is our mentality towards our own country: we have changed from people who founded the Greater State of Lebanon to people who just want their share of this country and the hell with everyone else.
And that, my fellow Christians, isn’t how we get our rights back.

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29 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About The Rights of Lebanese Christians

  1. Shu Lalous, Im not liking your articles lately. This rant of yours reminds me of Nadim Gemmayel on TV the other day( but he still was 100 fold worse). You offer big catchy headlines and talk about rights without tackling the fundamentals of the issue.
    1- it is not rights we are talking about, it is about communal harmony and synergism without one sect tromping over the other… Remember in 2009 how frustrated people were kif el sinneh aw el shi3eh tala3leh nowebeh”, or in 2005 when the people in tripoli decided who they want in zgharta, or in 1992 when christians didn’t even vote, but nevertheless no one cared. These are called christian rights. Currently it is about christian equality with their fellow muslims, in a new third (or fourth) republic were everybody is included within the system, represented equally.
    2- for the last 20 years christians have been dhimmis in their own country, not helping in running it but watching the sunnis and druze and recently the shia do. So where is the problem when christians and muslims both run the country equally
    3- This is a sectarian system ruled by confessions, sectarian laws and binding unwritten pacts. For the last 25 years, this system has been breached thanks to the ‘peaceful’ syrian regime with their catered election laws (blessed my many lebanese) and their persecution of christians. Why not repair this societal and governmental imbalance? When in rome do what romans do ( not the best analogy i know, but you get the point). So In lebanon since we are a sectarian system then it should be implemented fairly and not pretend we are some first world developed democracy.Its not something to be proud of i know, but it is how things are running currently.
    4- numbers? we are not a democracy Lalous, we are a confessional democracy, numbers do not count unless we abolish this sectarian system. Its a f***d up concept i know, but this is what we have. change? Inchalla, i hope.
    5- why arent you critisizing jumblatt and hariri for endorsing the 1960s law? So the orthodox law is unfair but the 1960s law isn’t?
    6- your last sentence does not make sense; christians want equality with this law , not ” to hell with everyone else” . And “from people who founded the Greater state of Lebanon to people who want their share” what?!?!?!?!!
    6- and please when you only criticize Aounists when LF and kataeb are just as vehemently and ferociously defending the orthodox gathering law, then that makes you a HYPOCRITE and people will not take the point you are trying to raise seriously.

    Bottom line, in a conffesionalist democracy you have to achieve equality amongst all the components of your society irrespective of their numbers. And the past election laws, endorsed currently by many lebanese factions, were a disaster in achieving that.

    Reply
    • I didn’t know you read my blog so thanks for that. I also didn’t know Nadim Gemayel actually said something about the issue because I don’t follow him nor do I want to be in the loop of what he does to be honest.

      1) So let me get this: The Sunnis and Shia of Batroun don’t have a say in choosing an MP that represents their region… just because they’re Sunni? That’s precisely the rhetoric that can’t bring forth synergism and unity. When people think that someone represents them just because his “ikhraj l eid” mentions the same sect, you will never get to where you want to get. And this isn’t a headline. The 1992 elections has been addressed through a point in my post.

      2) There’s no problem in people equally running the country. But it’s the notion of how to get there. You get there by voting for qualified people who can make your voice heard. You get there by getting past the notion that Christians must absolutely beyond a doubt irrevocably vote for half of parliament. Christians should vote for seats of both religions as should others.

      3) I am not pretending that Lebanon is a non-sectarian system. But to assume that the Orthodox law is the only law that can tackle this issue and give Christians their rights is not only non-sensical, it’s also offensive. Our politicians need to have a more creative mind – or better yet, a mind that transcends them reaching power again. And they’ll find laws that allow everyone to feel represented. Before you ask me to elucidate on the law, there will be a post about it soon.

      4) I’ve seen way too many politicians flaunt numbers here and there about Christians whose voices aren’t heard, etc…. They’re the ones mentioning numbers, not me. This is a confessional democracy that wants to overlook demographics, fine. But when you want to make a point using demographical data, then you are inherently exposing the weak foundations of the democracy you speak of. I won’t mention the latest politician I heard discussing the numbers lest you think I’m on a rampage against certain people.

      5) This isn’t a critique of an electoral law for me to criticize people who support certain laws. Both the 1960s law and the Orthodox Law are unfair. But the way I see it, the 1960s law makes more sense – why should I vote for the MP of a far far away region? Do I know their woes? Every single decent country on this Earth adopts regions as their basis for elections. Except Lebanon. Why is the 1960s law unfair? Only because our sects surpass our regional belonging in importance. I think that’s sad.

      6) Review the history book. 1920 – announcement of Greater Lebanon, championed by Patriarch Elias Howayek, etc…

      7) I didn’t mention any politicians in this and I made sure not to. As this is not a critique of those who support whatever law, I fail to see how this makes me a hypocrite. Either way you are free to believe whatever you want to believe.

      Reply
  2. This is just great. Judging by the above comments, people don’t know how to read because I don’t see any politics mentioned here.

    As they say though yalli fi msalle ta7t bato… Btene3ro.

    Reply
    • The previous post did not discuss Christian rights, it discussed that retarded OTV ad and politicians were clearly mentioned there. It seems you can’t wait to put words he didn’t say into his mouth & judging by how appalled you were by the previous post (yeah I saw your comments), I’m quite surprised you’re still reading this “biased blog.”

      Reply
  3. It’s none of your business that I read or not this “biased blog”. but it seems you can’t afford reading comments of FPM supporters. My dear I am not saying what was the subject of the last post but I’m rather saying that Elie was attacking FPM for supporting the Orthodox law without mentioning LF and Kataeb.

    Reply
    • The staunchest supporters of the law is the FPM.
      The LF and Kataed did not run such ads to support advocating the law and they both said they are willing to support another law if it ensures representation and has a parliamentary majority. Aoun said no such thing as far as I know.
      He was attacking the FPM for running such an ad even before supporting the law but looks like you couldn’t separate the two.
      I’m more than sure that Elie would blog against the LF and Kataeb doing such ads if they do as he has written against the LF and Kataeb many times before.

      Reply
    • And what does “can’t afford reading FPM supporter comments” even mean?
      I’ll just sit around here and wonder on that infinite wisdom.

      Reply
  4. Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking for a long time. Spot-on.

    Another Elie who’s annoyed there are too many Elie’s here haha

    Reply
  5. Thank you for sharing this information. As an American (of Lebanese and European descent), it provides me with a unique perspective on the issue that I can’t get from watching CNN or speaking with my family.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Lebanon’s First Ever Civil Marriage « A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

  7. Pingback: What Lebanese Christians Are Not Entitled To | A Separate State of Mind | A Lebanese Blog

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