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Saturday, September 03, 2005

Lahoud's ouster and Lebanese sectarianism

Some Lebanese media are rushing to defend Lahoud for no other reason than his being a Maronite president. A few bloggers have also rushed to his defence by arguing that his ouster was not a priority. Some are even hinting that Rafik Hariri was not a great man anyway, engaging in a totally unnecessary (and unfair) character assassination of the man whose contributions to post-war Lebanon will unfortunately never impress an increasingly delusional group of Lebanese. The following are edited responses I posted in some blogs.

I fail to understand why anybody would waste brain cells defending Lahoud (which is basically what LBC and some blogs are doing). Is it because he's a Maronite? How can anyone claim they want a country free of religious influence, free of the so called threat of fundamentalist Islam (which is suddenly becoming a concern in Lebanon), when they can't shake off their own sectarian and fanatical mentalities?

Lahoud for a long time symbolized and embodied Syria's hegemony over Lebanon. He was their man more than any other person in Lebanon. With the fall of his support system in the country, it only makes sense for him to go. You may not like the other politicians on the scene, that's your right, but that doesn't mean you should defend a guilty man out because of shared religious affiliation and political insecurity over the presidency post. So you don't care that Lahoud played a part in the Hariri assassination, but you should care that, as a president with near-totalitarian power over the country he bears direct legal responsibility - spare me the evidence talk, the man and his security chiefs are legally responsible and should be held accountable for this country's woes.

I find the anti-Saudi Arabia rhetoric rather strange. What motivates it? Are the Saudis blowing up shopping centres in Lebanon? Did Hariri destroy downtown Beirut? We might not like their way of life or their historic support for fundamentalist groups, but how is villifying Saudis going to move Lebanon forward? I am not sure they are the enemy right now. Our real enemy is our sectarian mentality, and as I can tell from this unfortunate debate over Lahoud and the sudden outbreak of love for him, sectarianism constitutes a more immediate threat to Lebanon's existence.

This debate should not be about Hariri's character or history, it's about Lahoud's police regime and whether he should be held accountable like many others should in Lebanon. Yes, they all were slaves to Syria, whether by choice or not. But you know, sometimes we forget that they were also slaves to their narrow sectarian agendas. I mean look at Aoun. After so many years of anti-syrian opposition, he reducned himself into a Maronite leader, as opposed to national, and went as far as allying himself with pro-Syrian figures.

Lahoud's ouster would send a message that nobody is above the law. I think Hizbullah should disarm quickly after this and leave the defence business to the army. I don't buy Jumblatt's resistance talk. I also think they should pass laws prohibiting religious figures, especially the Maronite patriarch, the muftis and all others from interfering in politics or acting like heads of states.

Abolishing our sectarian system might take a long time, and frankly I am not sure Lebanese people are ready for it, but we can start with a gradual secularization of politics and our political discourse.

I agree with you. I can't stand Lahoud, and I think he will do harm to our country. However, sectarianism is always at stake in Lebanon.
For my comments, see:


Anyone out there attacking Hariri is out of his mind. He has displaced anger. He knows something is wrong, but is striking out at all the wrong targets.
The whole Lahoud quandery boils down to sectarianism, but that is of paramount importance to us Lebanese.
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