Thursday, November 7, 2013

At AUB, a big win for Lebanese secularists

[Originally posted at NOW]

Amid the din of familiar political chants in the two segregated crowds outside AUB’s West Hall Tuesday night (“Bashir [Gemayel] lives within us!” on the de facto ‘March 14’ side; “God, Syria, Bashar [al-Assad] and nothing more!” on the ‘March 8’ one), there was occasionally a more unconventional slogan emanating from a small but lively corner: “Secularism! Secularism!”

The Secular Club, whose president Jean Kassir I interviewed on Saturday, had reason to be in high spirits. As Kassir had predicted, Tuesday’s elections were by far the most successful ones for the independent club in its history. Having won their first and only University Student Faculty Committee (USFC) seat last year, this year they took 13 of the 109 Student Representative Committee seats and 3 out of 18 in the more important USFC.

While this hardly spells the imminent demise of sectarianism in Lebanon (the March 8-PSP alliance won the most seats overall), it’s difficult not to take some encouragement from this slight flaring of the candle. It’s already been a historic year for those Lebanese who aspire to a day when clergymen can no longer tell them who to marry or what doctrine to impose on their children, and it’s gratifying to see these achievements, and the spirit undergirding them, making gains on the parties of God in all their guises.

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