جمهورية الأحزاب: أجيال ما بعد الحرب الأهلية اللبنانية


“Revolution… On Sectarianism… Revolution” All of our parties are
founded based on religion. We want to create
a new party, one that includes everything, and
everyone from different sects. Only then, can we
build a new country, and get rid of racist mentalities
and sectarian influences. Republic of Parties
Lebanese Post Civil-war Generation Lebanon is known as
a democratic country. Even though it’s one of the smallest
countries in the world, we still hear about it
often in the news. There’s always something
happening in Lebanon. When people look at our
country from the outside, they need to take a class on its
history, geography, civics, religion, and politics,
and…and ..and… Just to understand a quarter of
what’s going on right now. I’m from Lebanon, and don’t really understand
what’s going on most of the time. First thing to consider is that
Lebanon’s social structure is complex There are currently 18 sects
sharing a very small country. The majority of them are
Christians and Muslims. There isn’t a system that unifies
them under one ideology and cause, so most of the religions are
represented by political parties. In the past, even though the country was an example of
progressiveness and liberal thought, Lebanon, once known as the
Paris of the Middle East, became a battle-ground of a civil war between
religions that lasted over 25 years. It concluded with the Taif Agreement. It aimed to disarm political parties, and reach an all-inclusive
political framework. Fast-forward to now, the ruling
authority is still divided between parties. There are currently 128
seats in parliament divided between Christian,
Sunni, Shia, Durzi, and other minorities and
who knows what else. After the parliament extended
its own governance for the past 9 years, finally, for the first time a post-war
generation can vote and have the opportunity to
determine the country’s future. We’ll be meeting with youth
from different corners of society. Both politically affiliated and not. So we can see where
Lebanon is heading. Our journey starts in Beirut, and although it’s still affected by
sectarianism, it’s very well-integrated. Right now, we’re in
Sassine square, Those are the Lebanese Forces,
and the Free Patriotic Movement, These two major opposing
christian factions are celebrating. Here are the country’s security
forces to manage the traffic, because there’s a lot of
traffic blocking the road. But there’s an atmosphere of peace. This is the truth.
Two united. We’re in the Beirut 1 area now,
and we picked this place because it seems that the civil
society Kulluna Wattani (We Are All My Country) They’re gathered in big numbers, and they’re the ones who want
to change the course of the country to a Lebanon that isn’t
associated with factions which to them is the better Lebanon. I just want to tell you that we are
currently the talk of the town. Everyone is talking about us. when we’re distributing
flyers on the streets, Everyone points at us, and says:
“Those are the civil society.” “Those are Kulluna Watani” If one of us makes it,
then we will all make it. We’ve tried you for 30 years,
now give us those four years You’re writing the history of Lebanon. To elect a parliament member
without the support of the factions. We need to believe. Full power and hard work. Who are you? How did you start? We’re Lebanese. We were born here. We have never seen any party that
speaks our language. Everyone is pulling me to their side,
saying “I protected you during the war” Enough talking about the past,
we want to look towards the future. We want fast internet,
we want electricity, we want plans, we want prosperity. None of the parties
are talking about this. Every party is saying:
“I’m protecting Chrisitianity”, “I’m defending Sunni Muslims”, “I’m with the deprived.” Enough of all this talk.
It’s enough! It is the time to give the people
a chance; not the Right or Left wing The results started coming in. “Joumana Haddad is getting ahead…” Joumana Haddad is a famous
journalist and writer. They just announced that she
has a very high chance of winning. She’s an important figure
for the civil society community, she gave a sense of hope to
everyone that a change will come. The official results were
announced the following day. None of the Kulluna Watani
party won, not even Joumana Haddad. And the same faction oriented
image was drawn again. Many videos were posted
indicating election violations. During the chaos of celebration
of the winning parties, Kulluna Watani called for a sit-in as
a protest to the political corruption. Here is the sit-in for the
civil movement. We are almost there now to see
what the atmosphere is like. There’s a lot of uproar. “We don’t want trash,
we don’t want plastic bags, we want Joumana in the parliament.” This cause is everyone’s cause. The cause of our nation. During the sit-in, they had to clear
the road for army personnel, because there was trouble
brewing nearby. So now, we’ve run into a convoy
supporting El-Hizb (Hezbollah). They tore down a picture of
Saad Hariri. We don’t know if there will
be sectarian conflicts or not And we need to fuel up. The conflicts escalated and turned
into armed sectarian skirmishes. The parties that were in conflict
wanted to boast their power publicly. These moments were reminiscent of the
sectarian vein that led to a civil war. This has become a
normal scene in Lebanon. A scene that unfortunately,
the population has grown used to. “People of Lebanon…” “I almost believed that I was great,” “and that suddenly,” “I was going to live in prosperity” I’m Noel, she’s Michelle,
and we are sisters. We write sarcastic songs
about politics in Lebanon, and socio-political issues. To express our everyday life. Because we think it’s the best way to
spread the message on a wide scale “You’re embarrassing us.” Next thing you’ll tell us is
that we’re allies with the Smurfs. “No, please, I can’t let you
talk about the land of Smurfs.” “Why? Will it upset your boss?” ”Damn you and your boss.” ”And just like always, we ended up
with them and they’re meeting.” We all know that there’s an
excessive amount of corruption. That is justified. It’s simply justified. How many people get released yearly
from prisons by the way of factions? This is unacceptable! A lot of people are living in
difficult conditions in Lebanon. We’re still in a post-war phase. Our parents have recently suffered
indescribable atoricities. Many people are members of parties
just because those parties, at one point, did something good
for a group of people in Lebanon. That is the simple truth
whether we like them or not. Even if someone is a member of
a party, and voted for a party leader, when they see their party leader
doing something wrong, they must hold them accountable. We’re at a point where
we must build our future. We want to see our country embracing
its youth in a very healthy way. Currently, everyone around us
that thinks of getting a job, instantly think about migrating
to another country. Those who are considering marriage,
go to other countries to do so. All those who want to start a family,
get one child. And everything goes terribly
cause of all the pressures involved. So, it’s not acceptable. I want to sit with the people that
support the factions and find out Are they really happy? Is it really working? Regardless of what this party
did at a certain point in time, and managed to have
all these supporters, Do you really feel they’re
doing right by us in this day and age? To really answer this,
I have to travel away from Beirut The further you drive out
the more you’re exposed to areas, that are inhabited
by a single faction. So now we’re headed
up to Bsharri, to meet with the Christian
community that inhabits it and see what their life is like. God is with the Lebanese Forces! We’re here at Bsharri. The festival will start at
3pm at Mar Seba Square. People are starting to gather now. It seems like the mass just
finished now, not too long ago. There is a strong sense of belonging
to the Lebanese Forces party. “Supporters of the Forces,
People of loyalty!” I felt like I was witnessing an ideology
being passed down to the youth. It was indescribable. I met Anthony, who is a
supporter of the Forces, to talk with him about
this kind of affiliation. We’re not ashamed of being
Christians defending ourselves Sectarianism is not that bad
of an image, the way it’s portrayed. That it will change the face
of Lebanon and all that, no. Lebanon…is strong and rich because
of the diversity of its sects. The people you see here,
are they part of the civil movement? No, these people
believe in their parties. They all parade their party flag
and are proud to do so. Of course, they believe in their nation.
These are people who want to build a nation. They are saying that they don’t want corruption,
but they want to build the country Is it only the civil community
that can make a difference? The Lebanese Forces can
also make a difference. Your uncle is a martyr,
may he rest in peace, Thank you. How does this make you feel? Do you feel pride in the fact
that he was martyred in the name of the Lebanese forces
cause? Or do you consider it a waste? When he died, he was part of
the Phalangist Party in 1983, during the Battle of Zahle. Their troop, first went to Qattara
then Jbeil with Samir Geagea, then from Jbeil they went
through the valley, down to Zahle. The Syrian Army spotted them and
started bombarding them with mortars. And he died, he was martyred. When you look down
at Valley Qannoubine, and you take in all its holiness,
you notice how peaceful it is. You remember how
many people have suffered, And how people were prosecuted
and attempted to be killed just because they were Christians. But, we survived because
of their sacrifices. You can see how we still
exist after hundreds of years. You can see this beautiful view, And people who are down there
rooted in their own lands. You can’t help but
feel proud and graceful. You can’t help but think
that at any moment, whatever happens, you will have to
be like your parents and ancestors, So you can protect this
tiny spot of the universe. There isn’t anything
else like it. We just left Beirut
and are heading South. We’re headed towards Tyre
to meet with Mohamed Saleh. We’re going to be
discussing the same topics that we’ve been discussing with
all our youth from different sects. Mohamed is a supporter of Hezbollah, one of the most powerful
parties in Lebanon. It is considered to be both political
and militant at the same time. Firstly, you’re now
in the town of Barich. Barich is a small
southern neighborhood. It’s dominated by
one major sect. The Shia Muslim sect. It is also dominated by two parties. There is Amal Movement
and Hezbollah. When you think of these people
asking for a civil government, think of their parents. Their parents are originally
programmed to be sectarian. Well, this is what the civil
movement is trying to do, it is to reach a point where religion
is separate from politics. Separate from government,
so that you’d have a choice. Listen, how long have
they been trying? Three, four, or five years?
and for how much longer? Where is this going to get them to?
It will get them nowhere. Because the actual structure is
based on sectarianism. You’re going to have to get
these four or five million people, and rehabilitate them in order
to reintegrate them into society. It’s like erasing and formatting
a memory card. But memory cards are not
like human brains. I wanted to understand more about
Mohamed’s upbringing in this environment. Do you think all the young people here
think the same way you do? The youth here fall into one
of two categories: Between supporters and fighters. Three quarters of my friends, almost
70% of them, have chosen this path. The path of Jihad, fighting and
the same approach of Hezbollah. Do you have close friends or relatives
who are jihadists or have martyred? Yes, of course. He is very dear to us.
A brother, a friend. His death left an impact on us. -How old was he?
-I think he was 23 or 24 years old. -May he rest in peace.
-May God keep you. Good for him. We envy him. I personally envy him,
cause he’s resting now. It was really hard for me,
and it left an impact on me. I can’t tell you how much pride I feel
just because he was my friend. I knew a martyr and
I feel proud of him. At the end of the day,
the soul is a precious thing. He gave his soul for this cause,
the most precious of things. If the time and day came,
would you be prepared to, to become a martyr for your cause? I feel sorry about not
being that person. Or that I won’t be like that,
or that I can’t give. But, at the least, I can
fill up bullets, or prepare, or even help with logistics. I would be honored
and ready to give my life, body and everything that
I have in order to defend. Because fighters and jihadists of any
party do this to defend the land. So the least you can do is to support
them and back them up. I see the same mentality of
belonging in young people from different sects,
religions and traditions. On one level, I feel a sense of
compassion towards these youth for the amount of love and passion
they have for their land. But on another level, how much
are they willing to fight to preserve their sense of
belonging and identity? I wanted to speak with people,
who didn’t get involved with politics. Ralph and Aseel felt
like the perfect representation. Not only are they far from politics,
but they are also far from traditions. They’re in love even though
they’re from different religions. This mentality of regarding
someone as a bad person, just because he’s from
a different religion; -Or that we’re better people than him –
-Propaganda Or that he will harm us if he gets
the chance, or any of this these ideas are mainly used
to generate fear among people so that they resist opening
up to different parts of society, so that they don’t intermix. I met Ralph two years ago at work,
and we clicked. We became close friends,
then things developed and we’ve been together
for two years now. The other day I was sitting with
someone who explained to me, that it’s okay for a guy to
marry outside of religion And when I asked if it was
okay for a girl to do so as well, He said that’s impossible. People’s view about this subject, has become outdated,
they should get over it. On a personal level, all people can
understand each other they are friends, they meet each other
and intermix on the streets. But when politics get involved,
and remind everyone that you belong to this religion
or that political view, that you belong to this or
that you voted for that. This divides people, and if I ever
think about following those people who are supposed to
provide something new it will end up to be the same thing
that happened with our parents. When they all voted, stood by them and
went to war for them. Look where that got us, the country’s economy is in shambles. There are mafias in the country,
that we don’t know about. Even if they change leaders
for the next 100 years, there will always be select groups
that hold power over the people That’s how I see it. The sense of belonging to a faction in
Lebanon is as much emotional as much it is the effect
of history on generations. Being among these different people
who are celebrating their traditions, made me feel a kind of
nationalism. I somewhat understood the attraction
of belonging in relation to youths. At the same time, we’re noticing the
impact of this mentality that is being passed down
from generation to generation on the youth who have lost
their sense of belonging for several reasons and the place where it’s most
noticeable is Beirut. A city that is calling for development
towards a new direction. You feel like people are
starting to leave their parties, we’re being promised things, but they
end up drowning us in more trouble, whether it’s more garbage, or
corruption, or general debt. People are disgusted. At the end of the day, everyone
wants to be able to afford a living but if they see that things are
going against their interest; Nothing is progressing. Taxes are increasing. Then, they’re going
to start rising up These journeys opened me up
to more than what I know around me. Despite it being a small country,
the different walks of life are plenty, and between Muslims and Christians,
there are many others, and all of them want to live. Factions are a part
of Lebanon’s identity and they don’t seem to be
going away any time soon But where do the politcally
unaffiliated go? And the question remains,
what’s more important? The benefit of a group,
or the rights of the individual.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *