Worried Lebanese

thought crumbs on lebanese and middle eastern politics

Anticonfessionalism at its best*

Posted by worriedlebanese on 11/03/2009

_30381_ziad_baroudA month to the day, Ziad Baroud, Lebanon’s Interior Minister, issued a circular giving every Lebanese citizen the right to remove the reference to his/hers religion from the Civil Registry’s records. The circular instructed the registrar to accept all requests made by citizens to delete the reference to their religion in their records.  It added that such a right is protected by the Lebanese constitution, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international agreements that Lebanon has ratified.

This decision (and the laudatory reactions to it) enraged me so much it paralysed me. Here was the perfect illustration of a highly ideological step that was the fruit of a soon to be century old legal and conceptual confusion on Middle-Eastern communalism. Nowhere in the press did I find any critical approach to that decision. All comments were congratulatory.  Some pundits even spoke of a step towards the end of religious discrimination!? Who exactly is discriminated against? And obviously, no one spoke of the legal difficulties that are likely to arrise from this decision.

*which is bad enough


2 Responses to “Anticonfessionalism at its best*”

  1. AngryLebanese said

    A good example of the general confusion surrounding this issue can be found on the following blog:

  2. shutzpah said

    Comment left on another blogger’s page.

    The “password” as you call it has been hidden since 1997, after President Hraoui decided to remove the mention of confessional affiliation from the Lebanese identity cards (a fact that many people seem to have forgotten about).

    Ziad Baroud’s decision would hide the “password” from two other papers:
    – the birth and mariage certificate (Fiche d’état civil, ikhraj qaid)
    – the electoral rolls.
    Neither of those were used to kill people! But this being said, if tomorrow a couple of Lebanese militias decided to kill people under the age of 20 or women, should we also cross out gender and age from these papers? In the Chouf area, ethnic cleansing happened without resorting to the identity card. The same thing happened in Nab’a. Checking individual cards was time consuming, and the militias with the help of locals knew that this household was Muslim and that household was Christian (even if they didn’t know if it was Sunni or Shiite, Maronite or Greek-Orthodox, as mentioned on the former identity papers).

    Ziad Baroud’s circular is based on pure ideology. It will undoubtedly create many legal complications (and increase the power of the clergy who will become an authority left to determine confessional affiliation, while until Baroud’s circular, it was the Ministry of Interior, even if the Clergy didn’t agree with it). It has nothing to do with “identity killings” (come on!! it’s not the “password” that killed thousands of Lebanese but the militias under the leadership of current MPs).

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