Several thousand people gathered in the streets of Beirut on Sunday to protest; however, in a country where religion and politics are closely related, it was rather odd to discover a lack of religious symbols, or sectarian political banners, on display at the political event. Nevertheless, The Secular Pride March presented no crosses, crescents or portraits of martyrs or saints. Instead they carried roses, and the red and white cedar flag of the republic in protest against a religious domination over Lebanese civil and political life. And as some weren’t sure they could support what the participants wanted, it wasn’t difficult for spectators to comprehend their message: “What’s your sect? None of your business!”
Currently, Lebanon is more religiously diverse than any other middle eastern country, however, nearly all civil aspects of life are controlled by religious authorities, instead of the state. This manifests as the prohibition of Mixed-sect marriage, a domination of private religious schools over the education system, jobs rationing in accordance with sectarian quotas, and a requirement that all political candidates be categorized by a list that is enforced by sectarian political parties.
Confessionalism has fostered an environment of religious conflict – rather than preventing it; therefore, as Lebanon attempts to progress as a non-sectarian society, rallies like these are a desperate attempt by the minuscule minority, to usher in a revolution.
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