Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Telhami/Zogbi report on political opinions in Lebanon

Posted by worriedlebanese on 07/12/2006

The Sadate chair for Peace and development at the University of Maryland has published a very interesting survey done in Lebanon during the second week of November 2006. It shows the political attitudes and opinions of the Lebanese after the summer war. The Lebanese are subdivided into 4 communal categories: Shiite, Sunni, Christian and Druze.
For those who claim that the confessional marker is not significant, almost every single entry in the poll shows otherwise. Judging from the results of the poll, it’s quite obvious that there is a rift between the Shiites and the rest of the country on everything related to the July war and foreign policy.

What I found most interesting are the entries pertaining to identity and the state/religion issues. There is a large consensus over the fact that “Religion must be respected but the Clergy should not dictate the political system”. It would have been interesting to go a step further on this question to see what exactly is meant by dictating the political system: Is it ok for them to intervene during the elections and support some candidates? Is it ok to foster political deals, to sponsor gatherings? Should they be allowed to make regular political statements and recommendations?
But the Lebanese groups seem to differ in their estimation of the role religion plays in Middle-Eastern politics. The Shiites seem to want more, the Druze seem quite satisfied with the situation and the Christians the most disapproving, followed by the Sunnis.

As for identity, the Lebanese put their national identity first (a mean 72%), the second most important identity is more problematic and changes from one community to another. The communal identity is the highest among Christians, while the reference to an Arab identity is the highest among the Druze (24% higher than the national average). It would be interesting to add other elements to see the meaning that is attributed to each identity. What might seem convergent at first glance might then appear otherwise.

http://www.brookings.edu/comm/events/2006Lebanon.pdf

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