Monday, September 10, 2007

Why should personal faith be a qualification for the Presidency?



Ibn Rushd (Averroes) is considered to be the founding father of what became known as secularism or what is known as laicite in France or the concept of separation of church and state in the US model. It is ironic that one of the greatest Moslem philosophers of the 12th century has left an indelible mark on what has become a fundamental inviolable principle of modernity and democracy but the concept of the separation of state and religion is no where to be found in the Arab World , not even in Lebanon.

Some might argue that it is not very judicious,when the very existence of the state is in peril , to devote precious time and energy to a seemingly less urgent issue such as the abolition of sectarianism. Obviously we beg to differ. We are of the opinion that a certain outcome is always predicated on the basic structure that underlies the system in question. Furthermore, tinkering with peripheral issues will not result in a radically different result unless the underlying architecture is changed.The human tendency to concentrate on finding a remedy for symptoms rather than addressing the root causes of an issue has not served us well. The best that can be expected from a remedy that avoids the pain associated with adjustments to a new set of fundamentally different paradigm is to whitewash the problems for a while and to slow down the speed at which the abyss is being approached. Yet the inevitability of the crash is still there.On the other hand a radical redesign that addresses the major shortcomings and flaws in the current architecture will deal with the real problem at its root and will provide for a meaningful relief based on sound foundations.

A seminal structural flaw in the current Lebanese political system is the insistence that sectarian affiliation is the main qualification to fill electoral positions as well as appointed ones. Unless one happens to have been born of a certain sectarian belief then many positions are automatically considered to be out of reach for that individual. That is discrimination at its worst. This system essentially places an obstacle that an individual has no way of compensating for and it is also important to add that this so called charachteristic that prevents the many from being considered for certain jobs is not related by the furthest stretch of the imagination to ones ability to perform that job well. In fact religious affiliation is as unrelated to job performance as the applicants color of eyes ,the number of cavities in their molars or the make of car that they drive. The mere act of requesting an individual to reveal ones sectarian observances is best viewed as an intrusion on ones right to privacy.A political system that is built on this flawed concept enshrines the notion of religious discrimination, robs the state of the most qualified for various posts, results in unjust and inefficient decisions and winds up in generating a legacy of tensions and recriminations between the members of the same community.

Luckily enough for us in Lebanon, an agreement has been reached15 years ago which stipulates the dire need to create a just and sustainable political system in Lebanon by eliminating sectarianism at all levels. Let us start by electing to the presidency the person that has a deep abiding belief in Lebanon as a sovereign, democratic and modern state, a person who has a platform to initiate and help implement policies that will encourage the promotion of economic prosperity, individual freedoms, social justice and environmental sustainability.None of these attributes is the monopoly of one sect and thus there ought to be no sectarian restraint on who is qualified to seek that office.It is our sincere hope that you are in agreement with us that we should rebuild the Lebanese system on solid foundations and that the most basic place to start is to remove the criteria of sectarian affiliation for those that want to seek the Lebanese presidency . To have a list of female and male candidates that belong to all religious affiliations in Lebanon will be the best demonstration of our love and commitment to this state. And yes, Walid Junblatt should be just as qualified as say Boutros Harb to seek the office of the Presidency.

We would like to hear from each and every single one of you. Please take the time to post your thoughts and plans and suggestions on this matter.

41 comments:

Ghassan Karam said...

There is no topic that is more worthwhile discussing and devoting ones energy to than the idea of , shall I call it the complete de-sectarianization of the state to coin a phrase.
May I also humbly suggest that in the special case of the Lebanese society that the effort should refrain from using the term secularization and instead adopt the US phraseology of separation of the state from the religious institutions. I say this because in practically every circumstance whenever the idea of a secular state was discussed with my fellow Lebanese the majority of them felt the need to reject it because they equate secularization with atheism. Nothing is further away from the truth because the major driving idea behind the separation of religion from the state was the strong belief in the idea of freedom of religion. Simply stated, the concept of separation is the best and most effective guarantee of the freedom to pursue ones individual conscientious dictates, whatever they maybe.
It must be also very clear to all that democracy demands perfect equality. No discrimination is to be recognized by the law of the land whether it be based on gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation or personal religious belief. As a result I share very strongly the importance of the project as enunciated by “Citizen” for the immediate need to take the required steps that can establish this Lebanese egalitarian society. If our elected representatives fail us again in passing the required statutes then I feel that it is our responsibility and moral obligation to help usher our leaders in the right direction by waging widely promoted educational campaigns and by showing that we have the moral courage to take civil disobedience steps that could result in adopting these most important measures of abolishing sectarianism in all its aspects from the Lebanese body politic. Fairness, democracy and social justice will remain empty cliches until we develop the courage and the resolve to demand these seminal changes from our leaders. If we do not then we would be complicit in perpetuating this unjust , inefficient, undemocratic and ultimately unsustainable system

Anonymous said...

i agree a 100% that why involve religion with presidency!

Anonymous said...

I hope that this vision and effort receives more focus than just a one off discussion forum. This needs bigger legs than yours and mine, my friend.

I visit Ya Libnan all the time and saw the "Vote for Jumblat" banner there! Is it running anywhere else?

Best of luck with spreading your message, you have my support!!

Sincerely, Karim

Emad Salim said...

I totally agree with your statement, but unfortunately it would not work in Lebanon, especially with the current situation and the current mentality of many Lebanese politicians and people. First I would like to see the elimination of religious tribalism that is clearly the killer of the Lebanese way of life. As long as, many Lebanese people have their total allegiance first to their religion (and the contry that represents it) and then to the country where they were born, you will never see a seperation of religion and state. It is a sad situation, but that is what you get when you become a supporter of religious extremists.

Anonymous said...

the rationalist is a realist, and taking the current sectarian divides..such strategies are rendered ineffective and are also dangerous. Yes the article provides the righteous way, but this is simply infeasible at the moment...
It is natural to always be more loyal to the smallest unit of grouping. Country then Religion then Leader then villiage then family....it is seen everywhere in every country..but it is magnified in lebanon because it is a country of tension and continual fighting

Sincerely,
One of Walid Jumblatt's men

Anonymous said...

AMEN

George said...

Well, I think there should an open discussion regarding the definition of demoracy, and by this, I mean an open society with a marketplace of ideas.

Further, can a democratic system (if that's the desirable system) exist without a separation of church/state?

A secular state is not one comprised of atheists, but one that does not promote nor requires a particular religion as the main (and often ONLY) qualification for public service positions (elected and appointed).

I think this site is on the right track, and I hope others too see that an open system (democratic) is better than any sectarian one, which, by definition, is a closed system that excludes most other people.

But, any political system to be successful it must find acceptance and support by the majority of its people. Are the Lebanese ready to accept a system that's open and without restrictions regarding personal religious (or non) affiliations?

At the very least, can the Lebanese people have a reasonable, rational discussion about the merits of such a system?

This is not a hypothetical question--and we've seen that in many places the people's minds are so polarized that no discussion can ever take place. Can there be a national discussion about possible changes that would ultimalty benefit Lebanon?

Keep the discussion going.

Anonymous said...

George... I understand what you are saying but how can there be a democratic system when policticians are being killed every day in Lebanon.....

Its an absolute JOKE...

There will never be democracy in Lebanon. I believe its now up to the expatriots to put there hands up and do something rather then stand by as spectators.

George said...

Yes, violence and the extreme elements in a given society are enemies of democracy and obstruct progressive change.

"Never" is a very long time, so I hope that people can someday live in peace, where a political argument doesn't earn you a death setence.

The puzzle (and frustration) is how to break this vicious cycle: the conditions people live under foster certain (undemocratic) views about the political discourse. This in turn creates more people who contribute to the extremism.

I don't know what the expats or anyone who wants to help can really do, short of plunging into the conflict with force.... which will generate more force, and so on.

I mean, if people are not willing to talk, communicate rationally, then no door is open. You just have people behind barricades (physical and mental) yelling at each other... not even speaking the same language.... can't even agree about reality!

What can we do????!!!

The sad thing is that it's very hard to stop people hell-bent on killing others. Either people get tired of killing each other, or, one side kills all its enemies, or an outside actor with overwhelming force comes in and freezes everything.

Who knows, maybe enough people will soon realize that a marketplace of ideas and peaceful dialogue are a good way to start the healing process and for building a new, more open & happier Lebanon.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunetly I don't know how the problem that Lebanon faces will ever go away.

The big fact is that after the Civil war the groups that were responsible for any death any movemement should not have been put into any power of authority.

These men are now running the country, the question is how long will it take before they have to prove them selves... Lebanon has to clean up its MP's, get rid of all the chiefs and replace them with IDIANS.

Anonymous said...

Well said. Time for Lebanon to re-think the meaning of Democracy.

Anonymous said...

I love the idea if we should be a democratic country let us be an example to the rest of the arab world lets act like one and give everyone the opportunity to run for election let the people vote and elect who they want to be governed under no matter what the concequences are or the outcome should be. Peace and hormeny will only be achieved when all the sectarian are broken up and people feel that they are all equal.
My god bless Lebanon and heel everyone wounds.
Marwan

Anonymous said...

Lebanon needs leaders, not cowards. Our politicians are all failed leaders at best. Forget Aoun, Jumblatt, Berri, and Geagea - we need new blood to help revive Lebanon.

How are we supposed to push the old guard aside and make room for new faces and family names?

Jean said...

You stupid ignorant go do some studies about lebanon and marounite .. the JUNBLAT is one of those who was fighting for 25 years to cancel lebanon from the world map while marounite where fighting since 400 years to keep the lebnon and we succeeded but we didn't make all this sacrifices to let a stupid well ignorant like you and others to ask such a stupid question..Marounite is not a relegion marounite is a loby who created this lebanon...

Anonymous said...

Dear Citizen,
I couldn't agree with you more that the notion of using religion as the primary pre-requisite to running for a political office is absurd. Having said that, I coudn't help but notice your sole reference to the office of the presidency. What about other political offices? what happened to the Speaker of the House of Parliament and the Prime Minister? The separation of religion from government ought to apply to any political office not just the office of the presidency.

I must add, that in light of the history of the Arab World, and specifiaclly the strong adherence to religious doctrines, which I must say can steer one's ideology and mindset in certain perhaps, non popular direction, we must carefully note that some religions use their doctrine as the base and foundation of the Law of the Land. That could very well be why the political system in Lebanon had been structured the way it is today due to the relative diversity of its religious demographics. Just some food for thought.
Sincerely, a concerned Lebanese American

citizen said...

Anon Sept 27, 2007
If you will read the post again then you will find that the plea is to create a totally nonsectarian system but we raise the issue of the Presidency simply because it is what occupies center stage at the moment and because it is a very convenient place to start the transformation of the current broken system into an efficient, just, democratic and sustainable one. Thank you for your remarks.

Emad Salim said...

To my dear jean,

With due respect to you and without using insults, you yourself, should go back to history in order to find facts. The Druze and the maronites were the first people to live and protect the monutains of Lebanon. Al-Amir Fakr Elddin who is a Druze led the Lebanese (Christains and Druze) in their quest to push the turks out of Lebanon. The battle of Anjar is a good example. Al Amir Bashir al Shihaby, who is a Christian took the baton from Faker Elddin and continued the quest. So you see my dear Jean, Druze and Christian blood have been sacrificed in order to nourish the cedar of lebanon, to make its roots solid, and its green color green forever. If you're trying to divide the Druze and the Christian community again, you have failed and will fail as long as there are Lebanese people who have realized that religious wars and confrontations will never build a nation or a democracy.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

wow!

some guys over here need to change the tabac they're smoking, it really could mess up they're minds.
i'm not gonna tell whom am it talking about, but seriously, switch to nicorette or something 'light'....

takhantouwa..

Abdallah said...

jumblatt for president? regardless of any religious rationelle, this guy is a criminal - one of many- send him to trial instead.

and to a shrink to resolve his disfunctional dislexia in attitude and speeches. . .

and picking his name to illustrate your theory fails your point.

there are so many non maronite figures that could have better illustrated your argument.

Anonymous said...

jumblatt for president? regardless of any religious rationelle, this guy is a criminal - send him to trial instead.

and to a shrink.

Abou Shanab said...

Abdallah,
The main failure i'm aware of is your pathetic ability to post a comment anonymously.

If you could take your horse blinders off for a moment, you would soon realize that Walid Jumblatt has little to do with Citizen's proposal. He is simply using Jumblatt as a lightening rod for discussion, knowing that morons like yourself who cannot get out of rhetoric autopilot would be shocked at the notion.

Wake up and smell the matte!

shibr taweel said...

perhaps the solution and not the problem is the honorable general michel aoun.

he exudes leadership, and will surely help heal the divide in lebanon - give him the respect he deserves.

when the so called "citizen" suggests that walid junblet should be president, it insults me and my forefathers that helped build the brilliant empire of greater damascus.

why continue listening to idealists like the supposed "citizen" with his big white horse and french cuff shirts? these imbeciles are living in a utopia (possibly sweden or argentina) and hiding behind a silly pen name like "citizen".

Get down from your high horse mr citizen and give us a real argument for a change. i grow weary and tired of such drib drab, and long for some well though praise for my god, my hero, my savior, my one and only leader - sayyed michel aoun.

i wonder if the alleged "citizen" even has the courage to respond. doubtful, considering his suspect reputation

shibr taweel said...

As expected, no response from citizen. this proves that general michel aoun is lebanon's only true leader and defender of all religions.

hail aoun, hail aoun, hail aoun!

Anonymous said...

Hayda le ken ba3ed na2essna!! La Jumblat wala Aoun, khayeh!! tnaynetoun Ma byest7e2ouwa

Anonymous said...

shibr taweel - Is it fair to let any of them take charge of Lebanon after all the war crimes and atrocities they have created - ONCE again I reiterate LEBANON NEEDS A NEW LIST OF POLICTICIANS PEOPLE WITH NEW IDEAS AND A WILL TO LIVE!

shibr taweel said...

anonymous, show your face you coward! at the very least expose yourself so I know who hides behind that ridiculously silly idea!

Anonymous said...

shibr taweel, What Silly idea? Its people like you who have destroyed such a beautiful place. If your so SMART why are there 16 - 18 Million Lebanese living abroad. Stay to your ways and your views and let Lebanon BURN..... You are all cowards. The same governments who created the CIVIL are still alowed to rule! HOW? Its becuase COWARDS like YOU want them to stay there.

- John EL Zaki -

Anonymous said...

AOUN IS A JOKE IS HE FOR SYRIA OR AGAINST SYRIA?

Anonymous said...

Auon is an IDIOT - I love BUSH and his Middle East Policy - I like Israel and I like the West! My parents are Lebanese but me I AM A CONVERTED WESTERNER!

shibr taweel said...

To: john not so zaki,
i don't know what you're talking about, but i left lebanon a long time ago. paris and washington are much more civilized, and lend themselves well to lobby for the great, undefeated and undisputed champion al sayyed aoun.

if i were a coward, then why would i be donating hoards of money to the great and almighty? i could easily be investing for selfish reasons, but the fact of the matter is, he was born perfect and could never be corrupted. such a perfect innocent child deserves my money and yours as well. so donate today, mitl el shatir!

shibrayn qad rassak

Anonymous said...

Shibr Taweel - You know what you all make me sick, All my uncles and relatives and other Lebanese i know sent money back to Lebanon it was all of you who funded the war and destroyed the country. (Are you proud of yourself?) As long as people like you fund the COWARDS who are running lebanon whether it be Lahoud, Aoun, Jumblatt, Hariri, Siniora and the rest of them, the country will stay in ruins. And BTW why are you abroad? Why don't you go back and fight the Aoun cause or are you toooo CHICKEN?

**** John -always a- ZAKI!

Anonymous said...

to gassan karam - you posted the first comment on september 11th... a coincedence? perhaps a worthwile discussion is - "where were you at 8am on 9/11?"

shibr taweel said...

surprise surprise... the so called "citizen" is trying to silence the voice of this freedom fighter.

to the not so zaki john - leave your dark past and let the healing general embrace you. your views, while disturbing, are not lost all together.

to the alleged "citizen", gatekeeper and keyhole to this one post blog - let my words speak for themself - your cowardice has been noted.

peace out - watch out there's a shibr taweel swinging your way

much love, shibr taweel

Anonymous said...

shibr taweel - YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT! How many moor politicians will Aoun kill to win by elections and force his way into parliment? So how many moor will give him a majority? Does anyone know?

emad salim said...

After further review, and thorough discussion, the final judgment is: Shibr taweel has a brain habeel, his blood is tkeel, and kteer aleel. My friend, I will tell you that my only sayeed is God almighty, and the rest of men are equal to me. The only differentiators between men are education, knowledge, wisdom, and good deeds. So be a man and try to share ideas without bahwara and toufnees.

Anonymous said...

If you want to build democracy you have to dismantle radical groups, like hezbollah crap.

shibr raheeb said...

down with shibr taweel... time for a real leader in Beirut! Forget Sanyouara, forget Nasrkharallah, and stop talking about aounizzy - we got shit to solve, and it don't get done on a blog like dis. citizen and anonymous, put the fight to rest. let's join lebanon's fight to let the green flourish!

Anonymous said...

shibr raheeb - Thats what i am talking about. Good to see the change.

Anonymous said...

Wlak shou? no more blogging? We need it now more than evern boys and girls!
Yalla Shiddou Himmitkoun. Tharrakou.
Someone needs to put a bullet in between the eyes of that Iranian thug in the South. That A-hole is taking Lebanon back to the ice age. Eff him. Shame on him and he calls himself Lebanese? I hope he rots in hell when they get his ass.

Anonymous said...

Well said MATE....... I could not have said it better my self!

 

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