Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lebanese Christian rivals finally unite - on need to oppose Muslims

[Originally posted at NOW Lebanon]

When it comes to trivial issues – Hizbullah’s arsenal; the Special Tribunal; the thousands killed in Syria; etc. – Lebanon’s Christian politicians never quite seem able to agree how to tackle them. What a relief it is, then, to see that they can set aside their differences and unite on the question that really matters: the religious beliefs of state electricity employees.

As yesterday’s parliamentary session came dangerously close to resolving one of the country’s current crises by approving the full-time employment of Électricité du Liban contract workers, the ever-scrupulous Energy Minister Gebran Bassil noticed that some 80% of said workers were not in fact adherents to the Christian faith. This important finding quickly rallied lawmakers from the Kata’eb and Lebanese Forces parties to his side, bringing the arch-rivals together for the first time in what must be years. They subsequently agreed to boycott today’s session, swiftly resulting in its cancellation, a move described as “imperative” by Kata’eb sources and “the least we can do” by a Change and Reform source.

Some will no doubt argue the move is entirely in accordance with the country’s (largely unwritten) constitution. I’m certainly not qualified to disagree. But if correct, it’s worth taking a step back and marveling anew at the profound destructiveness of the entire sectarian edifice. A problem that exacerbates not only the country’s energy crisis, but its physical insecurity (EDL employees, if you haven’t noticed, have been among the more agitated tyre-burners in recent weeks) is moments away from being fixed, before being felled once again because some of the people involved subscribe to the ‘wrong’ religion. As we say in the UK: Christ Almighty!

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