Lebanon protests against sectarian politics and gender discrimination

This appeared in The Millennial Source

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Protests in the Middle Eastern country of Lebanon are upending national politics amidst the search for a new prime minister. Protestors have been gathering since October this year to call for an end to corrupt sectarian politics in the country. These protests have merged with a feminist movement that is seeking to bring women in the country greater representation and protection under the law.

Why are there protests?

The protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 29. A prominent Lebanese businessman, Samir Khatib, had stepped in as a candidate and was to take office on Monday, December 9. However, Khatib suddenly ended his candidacy over the weekend, leaving a vacancy that may leave room for Hariri to reassume office.

Women’s rights

In some Muslim countries, women can be punished for their own rapes under Islamic law. In 2017, a preacher in Saudi Arabi made headlines when he published a video online in which he claimed women are to blame for rape and sexual harassment.

Sectarian politics explained

In 2012, a study by a Beirut-based research firm, Statistics Lebanon, found that 54% of Lebanon identifies as Muslim and just over 40% identify as Christian. The remaining 5–6% are made up of varied religious groups, including Jews, Buddhists, and Hindus. Of the 54% that identify as Muslim, the group is split almost evenly between Sunnis and Shiites — the two largest Islamic sects.
In a January 5, 2016 interview with NBC News, Robin Wright — a joint fellow at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars — stated that the original schism between the two sects, which occurred shortly after the Prophet Muhammad’s death in 632 A.D., was about political leadership — “not over religious doctrine.” Hariri, the former prime minister, is Sunni Muslim.

Originally published at https://themilsource.com on December 10, 2019.

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