"In Lebanon, the crisis is primarily that of confessionalism"

Alain Frachon, editorialist at the "World", was in Beirut on the eve of major events that shake the country. In his column, he points to all the seeds of this "great stroke of anger".

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Demonstration in Beirut, October 21, 2019.
Demonstration in Beirut, October 21, 2019. ALI HASHISHO / REUTERS

Dpolitical beginning in early October in Beirut, just before "the big shot of anger". We are in the garden of a man of experience – the wise man of the neighborhood. The table, a plate of glass placed on a block of stone, is erected under an olive tree: this one has survived all the tragedies. The sage has invited his friends, a former prime minister, the former boss of the central bank, a young deputy, a son of a great religious dignitary, a lawyer. They are an admirably polyglot microcosm of a certain Lebanese elite and belong to almost all the country's confessions – Christian and Muslim (Shiites and Sunnis).

Autumn is the best season in Beirut. However, this year, the economic and social life is harder than ever, the monstrous car traffic. The country is flirting with a serious financial crisis, it dances on a difficult internal political balance in a chaotic external environment.

But Beirut has its usual "punch", this untamed dynamic that belongs to the DNA of Lebanon: an entrepreneurial life and associative suractive, a large Picasso exhibition, concerts and other cultural events by tens. Like nowhere else in the Arab world.

At the table of the wise man, the mood was dark, the verdict unanimous and premonitory: "State collapses ", "There is no more state", "The political system is KO. ", "The country is doing the wrong thing" In the heat of the Beirut night and under a sky as clear as our crystal glasses, it was a late-night dinner.

A quarter of the country beats the pavement

A few days later, "the Lebanese autumn" exploded. Hundreds of thousands of Lebanese, all confessions and mixed social backgrounds, rallied to the street to stigmatize the negligence and corruption of the political class. Order of magnitude of this "national demonstration": the quarter of the country beat the pavement, the equivalent of 15 million French!

Lebanon has a little more than 4 million inhabitants, to which must be added more than one million Syrian refugees and 260,000 Palestinian refugees.

Basically, the Lebanese are divided into three denominations – Christians (belonging to all the panoply of Eastern churches), Sunni Muslims (the mainstream of Islam) and Shiites, finally a Druze minority. Lebanese singularity, the institutions integrate this pluriconfessionality. The President of the Republic is a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister a Sunni Muslim, the Speaker of the Parliament a Shia Muslim.


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