In an area that has seen the ethnic cleansing of its indigenous Christians escalate the last few years, and with Western countries in particular singling them out for migration, Lebanon is in fear of losing its place as a last refuge of these ancient peoples.
Whether it was Roman persecution, Islamic, Crusader or Ottoman, historically the indigenous Christians have coexisted with their surroundings peacefully despite such oppression.
The National Pact of 1943 that underpins the Republic of Lebanon stated that there would be equal coexistence among Lebanon’s sects with the Presidency reserved for Christians, Prime Minister for Sunni Muslims and Speaker of the House for Shiite Muslims.
The parliament has 128 seats; 64 Christian representatives (34 Maronites, 14 Orthodox, 8 Melkite Catholics, 5 Armenian Orthodox, 1 Armenian Catholic, 1 Anglican, and 1 Protestant) and 64 Muslim representatives (27 Sunnis, 27 Shiites, 8 Druze, and 2 Alawites). The elections are by district, with a fixed number of representatives allocated to each community in each district.
Since the end of the war in 1990, the powers of Lebanon’s Presidency were stripped significantly in favour of the Prime Minister and the election laws gerrymandered so that Christians vote for approximately half of the 64 MP’s allocated to them and the rest imposed on them by the other communities.
Due to the institutionalised corruption that was instilled to benefit the ruling class and their foreign benefactors, elections have now been postponed twice resulting in parliament being extended for a full term for fear that the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Party and allies will win enough seats to form a majority without the need of the corrupt ruling class.
Likewise, Lebanon has been without a President for over 2 years as the traditional post war ruling class could not bring their preferred weak Presidents with no popular support to this post.
The FPM and allies have finally put their foot down and demanded the most popular Christian become President as should be the protocol (this is usually applied to the most popular Sunni and Shiite for Prime Minister and Speaker respectively yet not for Christians and the Presidency).
It seems that whenever the FPM takes control of a Ministry and attempts to cleanse corruption and introduce accountability, the established ruling class will place innumerable obstacles to prevent such reforms.
In the Telecommunications Minister, the FPM had to fight to reduce cellular phone costs and improve communication services for the Lebanese consumer (a policy now reversed since their opponents took back the Ministry).
The FPM’s reform efforts in the Energy Ministry were hamstrung by those in opposition and the Lebanese populace still lives without 24-hour electricity, dependent on generators for up to 18 hours a day. Unsurprisingly, those with interests and investments in electricity generators and the fuel needed to run them benefit from these factors immensely.
Garbage is towering in the streets, after a momentary reprise Lebanon’s waste crisis appears to be at a cross road again as the corrupt ruling class fight over how best to divide the spoils of government contracts.
Additionally the most recent violation to the constitution is the process of prolonging the appointment of a new Commander of the Armed Forces (a position also reserved for Christians) while other positions within the Army are being filled illegally.
The FPM who represent the overwhelming majority of Christians and have multi sectarian support are going to the streets demanding respect for Lebanon’s National Pact and Constitution.
No one other than the FPM have the command to carry this out, as their movement was borne of a Government that protected Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims from aggression; and in the 2006 war with Israel, were the first to come to the aid of Lebanon’s Shiite Muslims that were being attacked by external and internal forces.
Now it is the Christians that are being targeted with the deterioration of Lebanon’s institutions, Constitution and National Pact.
Corruption affects everyone regardless of sect, but it is time to call for an end to these preventable atrocities befalling our countrymen. No electricity, no water and garbage piling affect and are a detriment to all Lebanese, Christians and Muslims.
If you live in Lebanon, stay up to date with the FPM announcements and take to the streets along with your friends and family. If you live outside of Lebanon, call your family and friends and ask that they partake in these rallies against injustice and illegal activities.
The Lebanon of the future will thank you, your children will thank you.