Lebanon is living a silent revolution | Opinion , Commentary | THE DAILY STAR
Très intéressant commentaire de Abdallah Salam sur le mariage civil et au-delà, la possibilité offerte aux Libanais de se défaire, administrativement, de leur affiliation confessionnelle.
More than any other, it is the Lebanese of the post-Civil War generation, my generation, who have won. They have been the most enthusiastic for civil marriage and will benefit most, in a practical sense, from what has now become possible. It is also a victory for Lebanese advocates of the rule of law, constitutionalism, and a culture of textual interpretation that accounts for the needs of an evolving society. Not least, it is a victory for Lebanese advocates of pluralism: the idea that all must be respected in their chosen way of life.
That said, removing reference to sect from state records, a process that began in April 2007, deserves at least as much attention as the civil marriage victory. Even though it is a simple and easy procedure, it is a highly significant one in Lebanon – a country that has known war, and continues to know tragedy, along sectarian lines.
By not declaring a sect to the state, a Lebanese establishes a direct relation to the state: as a citizen without a sectarian intermediary.
Of course, a Lebanese who removes the reference to sect from state records can still be religious in belief and social identity, and can maintain strong ties to religious institutions independent of the state. This was demonstrated by a prominent religious figure, Archbishop Gregoire Haddad, who removed reference to sect from his state records. In fact, when Lebanese started removing any reference to sect, a few bureaucrats mistakenly replaced it with the terms “no religion” or “no sect.” This mistake was corrected and now only a slash is written to indicate a decision not to declare one’s sect.
Alarmingly, the administrative practice in Lebanon is for individuals to be registered at birth by default under the sect that one’s father was registered under. This practice goes back generations. No Lebanese has ever been given a choice of not declaring a sect. Essentially, they were forced into sectarian administrative cages and thus prevented from coming together as one people.
These cages have now been unlocked. Lebanon has now been transformed from a state where 18 different sectarian labels are the most basic administrative categories to a state where “declare” and “nondeclare” are the two fundamental administrative categories.