“Only Christians can save Lebanon” Seriously?

Photo: Now Lebanon

The chief irony of this ridiculously sloppy and irresponsible piece that appears in Now Lebanon is that it calls for secularism as the solution to Lebanon’s problems while using an utterly sectarian-based argument–that only Christians are capable of making change and only Christians “own their own words”

The second irony is that while journalism, research and solid reporting could do a wealth of good at combatting the fear-mongering of Lebanese politicians (by actually holding them and their cronies accountable with a detailed documentation of financial transactions and failures to govern), this journalist has utterly squandered the opportunity to practice journalism by resorting to the same shallow sect-based arguments as the politicians she criticizes.

Here is the rest of my comment, posted at the bottom of the piece, which is wrong for a lot of other reasons:

The central problem with this article is that it has no sources and thus offers no basis for its bombastic and irresponsible claims. How does one gauge what “the majority” think? Has this writer done any research on opinion polls or other indicators or does she just claim “to know?” Clearly she has not done much reading of history or current affairs if she believes that Christian leaders do not seek and receive support from foreign governments, which has been a hallmark of political behavior in Lebanon, particularly among Christian movements. 

And on what basis does she claim Christians (all or most?) seek secular governance? What then does she make of the discourse of “Christian rights” which has been heavily promoted by many political parties here. 

Then there is the utterly superficial logic that just because the majority of Lebanon identifies with a certain faith, that faith is at the root of problems. That’s like saying the US and its military is one of the world’s most violent forces because its population is Christian. 

The author is only right to point out the widespread production of fear hinders national reconciliation and facilitates foreign intervention–but Christian politicians are just as much participants in this as Lebanese leaders of any other faith. In fact, the hunt for power by Lebanese warlords, feudal dynasties and businessmen is more about greed and self-interest than secularism or religion. Lebanese leaders act with impunity because we lack systems of accountability. Simply put, you can get away with murder in Lebanon and many of our politicians of all faiths have done so. This is where journalism can play a wonderful role, by demanding and writing about accountability rather than make vague and un-researched claims that promote sectarian arguments. I highly recommend the author and her editor read a great book by Edward Said called Orientalism to become more familiar with the logic of Orientalism and Islamophobia which this piece consciously or subsconsciously promotes.

  1. Dear Mr. Habib Battah,

    I would just like to point out that the “article” is in fact a blog post.

    Here is the official definition of a blog (according to Merriam Webster):

    blog noun ˈblȯg, ˈbläg

    : a Web site on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences

    Thank you

  2. Thanks Ranya, I think I’m familiar with the term 🙂

    One could probably debate whether there is a difference between an opinion article and a “blog” section of a news website, authored by a journalist working for the site. I also think Websters probably needs to update that definition, which is a bit narrow, considering fact-based analysis can also happen on blogs. But the issue here is not the heading or format, it’s the ideas and their publication.

  3. Disclaimer:

    I am glad that this post has generated such a debate, especially when many things were left unsaid. However, I would have hoped that the debate be more professional and not personal.

    I’d like to point out that this is not an article. This is a blog post and therefore it is an opinion, and opinions, as you all know, are a result of perception and experiences. I am entitled to an opinion that may differ from yours. We are all advocates of freedom of expression here, and an essential part of that is to respect each other’s opinions, even if one disagrees with the other.

    In an ideal world secularism is the best solution; however, we do not live in a utopia. Today, the majority of Muslims (and as I mentioned with the exception of a select few) follow their religious leaders and elect their sects’ representatives. These groups have regional sponsors involved in a proxy war and who as a result, have been pitted against one another. They do not have a final say in what is happening in the country, but on the contrary they find themselves compromising their beliefs and ideals, because sponsors may be brokering a deal at the moment.

    As opposed to the above, Christians today have no external sponsors, they have strategic alliances, meaning, they do not serve as a proxy to any international player. However, they have made the decision willingly to side with one party and not the other. I am not saying that the decisions they took in the past were the best, and I am not saying that they are making the right choices at this moment in particular, but what I am saying is that they can be taking choices which could possibly save Lebanon.

    So, if Christians came together and decided to push for a civil state, they can pretty much save us all.

    -Nadine Elali

  4. Ranya do you work for Nadine? Why not let her speak for herself? This disclaimer sadly has not taken the critiques seriously or even taken them into account it seems and there was nothing personal about the critique, at least on this site.

  5. Actually, I work for NOW News. I do apologize for all the comments, but I’m just doing my job. Cheers

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