Sunday, April 25, 2010

Secular Lebanon, oh is it another dream?

What grabbed my attention the most is the presence of foreigners in the Lebanese Laique Pride march that took place today April 25. The crowd gathered at first near Ain El Mreisseh and then marched towards the Parliament in Downtown.

Reading from right to left: What's my sect? / I am a secularist.
I am not a dis-believer
What's your sect? None of your business.
What I loved is the convoy we had by the security forces and police, making sure roads are open and leading the way for the march.

The turnout was pretty impressive, we’re talking thousands, I personally did not expect this much, and I overheard someone from the organizers say the same. So yeah! Pretty cool.

Young children were there, and that is important, so do they understand what secularism means and why we want a secular Lebanon? Most probably they don’t! The next logical important question is: do we adults understand what is secularism?

Student clubs from AUB, members from Nationality Campaign, foreigners,,  and many other groups were participating.

Civil marriage was mentioned, pretty logical of course. Do we have to go to Cyprus and Turkey to get a civil marriage? Some banners stated: “We want civil marriage and not civil war”.

 What would happen if Fatima and Tony fell in love?
My sect is Lebanon
Once we reached the furthest point which was Al Masaref street, because the army blocked our road to the parliament, the speaker, a lady I must stress, gave a short and straight to the point speech, not so Lebanese of her, but so logical of her, so Kudos! From her speech:
  If we want to see change, change should start from us. We will continue to work, and we hope that you will help us with this

For me, I loved the positive vibes during the march and the fact that there were thousands who participated in today’s march, however, I am not sure this will be more than a scream, unless like Bassam Al Kuntar (Al-Akhbar) explained:
Till now it’s great, but they should continue working on it in a unified and organized matter for it to actually lead somewhere and not just remain a shout.
Moreover, I think we can’t just come and tell the country give us secularism, and give us civil marriage, like any other project, we need to prepare a plan, statistics, numbers, a study, mathematical proof that this will be for Lebanon’s well-being.

I tweeted the hell out of the march today (as much as the WAP on my phone permits), so make sure you follow indep05blog for more on live tweeting for such events. For photos I took and live tweeted, you can find them here.
Sectarian #Epic #Fail (This is a tweet on a banner by @abzzyy)

Anyway because I had re-inventing the wheel, and someone did a great job reporting today’s march, so do check it fellow blogger and activist Nadine Moawad’s post. And here's a global round-up on all blogs that wrote about LebLaique today via Lebanese Voices.

Update: Some photos have been selected by the dear Octavia Nasr from CNN for her documentary concerning that day. You can view the video here.

Also, CNN's blog post on the subject, also featured one of the photos I took, and linked backed to this post. You can read it here.

For more photos, do check Fady Nammour's here.

All photos taken by yours truly.


  1. Awesome job you did on live coverage with twit pics and with your blog :)

  2. I'm glad that my very first comment to you will be the first comment on this post.. great coverage for this great event. but i'm afraid that it's will be only a scream (or as i tweeted as noneffective as a gay parade), feel sorry that things hardly change in Lebanon, most probably good things turn to bad, but rarely bad things turn to good. getting rid of the stone aged secular system need a long long time and effort, this generation and the previous ones are hopeless to cure.. maybe the next generation will be better than now and secular-free generation. We should start from ourselves, trying to git it out from us, next thing is schools, should be changed ASAP if we really want the next generations to be non-secular, otherwise we will only produce clones of what we already have (society with all this secular crap). and for sure, the whole system should be doomed from the roots and replaced with a whole brand new system ( this will take long time and started with strong dictatorship non-religious system, then little by little democracy will come when we are really prepare for it and mature enough to handle this lovely thing called democracy). Ouh, I should comment not debate! maybe I'll elaborate more in my writings..Liliane thanks for this post..

  3. We should raise money in a way or another, all who is claiming a secular state would be sent to cyprus to get married and get a "Secular" marriage. Same religion, same shit, EVERYONE should make that statement and go get married there! I am on a sugar high, don't know what I am rambling.

  4. Take something you've worked on for years, from the day you were born, from the life that your parents gave you.. how would you feel when that dream is reached?

    Take something that happens by accident. It's echo would only last so long in time. (speaking of matters concerning society of course, not natural disasters and such)

    Dreams are built, and they are built, by baby-steps..
    Hope is never a bad thing when you accompany it with baby-steps, however hope alone.. is utterly useless.

    Always there,


  5. Thanks cristin, dany and G for your comments.

    Souppi, stop eating sugar! ;)

  6. Loved that one the most “We want civil marriage and not civil war”, very cleaver.

    @Dany, great comment
    @UxSoup, so you're pro-secularism? (unless I got your comment wrong). If so, then why are you against the Palestinian existence in Lebanon, isn't because they are Muslims?

  7. Ghassan, first thanks for your comment, second how did this turn into palestinian existence in Lebanon? Seems like your moving some history you have with @uxsoup to here. I can always create a special post for you to continue that discussion :)

  8. Hi Liliane,
    Seems many people who call them selves seculars act and think in completely contradicting way when it comes to their interests (as individual or as a group). This is not just about George, it's about the mentality that exist (not only in Lebanon to be fair) that is much bigger than politicians.

    Secularism is a nice word, but do people really believe in it. Then when sectarianism will go, and real secularism begins. No matter what the politicians want.

    Politicians take their support from the people because they play on the fear most of them have inside from the other (namely, demographical balance). Even many who call them selves seculars.

  9. awesome coverage... great pics :)
    i wish i was there...

  10. Ghassan, I was referring to what it seems that you already had a previous talk with UxSoup that was suddenly moved here. Anyway, I 100% agree with you, I did say this in the post:

    "The next logical important question is: do we adults understand what is secularism?"

    So yes, it's far early to have a secular Lebanon because as some want to "ilgha2 el ta2ifiya al siyassiya" it's not simply changing a low or changing a system, it's in the roots of our children's way of being raised, of how we think, and I am starting to think it's genetic (LOL, sad LOL).

    Simon, thank you :) My aim was to make people who weren't there feel like they were. I have more pictures, I hope I will have time to upload them.

  11. Ghassan Younis: I am pro-secularism till the bones. Both my wife and me are from the same religion yet we decided to go for a civil marriage in Cyprus with the blessing of our parents!

    As for the Palestinians, my closest friends are muslisms (cliche to mention but it is and my "entrourage knows that), I am 100% against the naturalization of Palestinians in Lebanon and will fight it with my teeth if I had to.

    Economically, ecologically Lebanon is way behind to hold such a burden. The right to return is a MUST return. It's about a social political belief and has NOTHING to do with religion.

    Give it a few months before the Christian Iraqis problem will surface in Lebanon.

    Palestinians in Palestine, Iraqis in Iraq. plain and simple. they MUST and WILL go back to Palestine/Iraq.

  12. Khaled:

    It their right and a must!

    A question: do the Lebs who fled the country in the US/OZ/CAN/France/Brazil etc have their own camps and their own weapons with their own "self-security" where the US/OZ/CAN/French/etc army cannot access? :)

    "2a3ed bi 7edno w byentef bi da2no"

    Anyways, this turned out to something else, sorry LilZ for the hijacking :P

  13. Naturalization topic is hot I know, but I also know we won't get anywhere :P

    Back to secularism in case anyone would still like to say anything about it. Especially about the fact, which I strongly agree to, that it is still under the shadow and not correctly understood.

  14. Hi,

    I think this is in a way related to secularism, considering the fact that Christian Palestinians and other non-Lebanese Christians treated differently (officially) than Muslims. This was the point in the first place.

    I'm not gonna go deeper into the subject, and maybe would love to if you wrote a blog post on this topic, Liliane. Just let me reply on some of the comments made:

    1. I'm Palestinian (originally from Haifa) living in Jordan, where shall I go back to? Where is Palestine now? Most Palestinians want to go back to Palestinian but can't. Until then, their status should not be pending like this.

    2. The issue of weapons is a totally different matter. And would agree with anyone who would speak of disarming the Palestinian factions in Lebanon.

    3. Would you add to what said "Armenian in Armenia"?

  15. Ghassan, sorting the palestinian's situation is something, naturalizing is something else!! yes for schools and meds, rights as temporary residents, but a big NO for naturalization.

    khayeh, middle ground. university graduates from select universities are eligible to apply for citizenship. Good enough?

  16. I left Lebanon 20 years ago and I haven’t been back, I lived in the US and Canada. I wish Lebanon one day become a free society do whatever you want and say whatever you want no fear. The new generation will change Lebanon one day, and if someone wants to be a politician or the president of the country he can, not because of his religion, because of what he will offers and what he knows not because he is Muslim or Christian. Enough is enough we are tiered of the same people controlling the country and not giving new blood the opportunity to rise and help the new generation

  17. Ghassan and George, a post about the naturalization is coming soon, because I have a lot to say about it, and I'd love it for us to discuss it even more, 'cause for once I feel like we can reach a middle ground for at least 3 individuals to agree on such a matter :)

    Sam, 100%. I once suggested on this blog that our president to be or prime minister to be to actually show us their CVs just like any candidate applying for a job! Too good to be true though for it to happen in this country

  18. Can't we learn from the positive elements of the West, like allowing all people to eventually assimilate into the general culture and citizenry? We are all just human and the more we wrok together and live together the better off we all are; this has been proven all over the world. One's religion and ancestry is his own personal matter.
    If any of Palestinian descent wishes to and is able to move to Palestine, great. But if they have been living in Lebanon for many decades wouldn't we all be better off, ecomnomically and socially if we could finally join hands and rebuild? The longer we drag out our historic differences our prospects can only be more strife, divisivness and a lower quality of life.
    Secularism and equality for all!

  19. In the middle east, you have those who want to keep bringing up the past and dwelling on the history and remembering negative things, and building up on them negative energies and hatred to each other, and you have the other part that wants to start over, to forgive and continue. And it has been/still is a struggle between those two poles.

    As for Palestinians living in Lebanon (although I did say I want to make a special post about it) I will be brief and say, even if with all my heart I want them to find a home, and if it is Lebanon, and Lebanon "can" economically, socially, demographically "comprehend" it then why not.

    Anyway, I will elaborate on that in another post. You just gave me an idea, and I hope I will be able to execute it.

    More to come