How can you possibly be excited about this little spring outing that at best will lead to nothing (the declaration is a mess and the aims hazy), and at worst will be hijacked by Nabih Berri as a negotiation chip?
On the contrary, WL. I think it is important that those after secularism for secularism’s sake make their voices heard precisely so that Berri and his likes do not hijack the platform.
I agree that their declaration and aims are hazy – and hopefully I will get the time to post something on this – but I think the debate has to start somewhere. Right now real discussion on the topic of secularism in Lebanon is so dead, which is why Berri can pretend that he will continue to play a leading role in a secular state.
Well, I’m not sure the people behind “laïque pride” are after secularism for secularism’s sake. They want to combat الطائفية،. Like most people in Lebanon, they confuse many different issues (such as secularism, relation between state and organised religions, communal power sharing, communalism, legal pluralism) because they put them all under the same banner “confessionalism”.
I tried to reason with them, but I’m afraid this whole thing is going to be a simple فشة خلق، and politicians will hijack it. People tend to forget that anti-confessionalism is after all the state’s ideology and all public discourses denounce confessionalism… So politicians won’t even have to hijack the initiative, “Laïque pride” is playing on the politician’s turf…
The issues you point out are different, I agree. Part of the problem IMO is that there is no vision of what a “secular” Lebanon would look like and a vision would distill the issues better. There are so many different models of secularism and just picking one that fits, be it French or American, cannot possibly be the answer. But if that vision is to be formed, then it can only be by trial and error.
I know many politically disenfranchised people who think they are alone in Lebanon in wanting one form of secularism or the other (and I see many familiar names on the petition). It would be good for them to get to know each other if this debate is to have a future. If the politicians hijack the action, then the LP people and others behind them will just have to make their voices heard. It is part of the process. If the fear of being hijacked by one political party or the other is going to determine the space of action, then might as well give up already.
Well, I very clumsily tried to reason with them, but instead preached and admonished (where is the blushing smiley already).
Here’s where it’s at: Preaching against Laïque Pride
You point at very interesting issues that I believe should be dealt with:
– Lebanese who feel “politically disenfranchised”. Why do they feel disenfranchised, are they really and what can be done about it?
– Defining a Lebanese vision of secularism (which I believe already exists but isn’t explicitly defined). I’m not sure that this march would lead to that. If you look at their facebook page, you’ll notice that the most vocal people are the most dogmatic, and they’re defining the issues. This I believe is the greatest problem with Laïque Pride because these people are actually organic intellectuals (in the gramscian sens unfortunately, and not the environmental).
– Defining a space of action amidst political recuperation. I think this is quite a challenge because our pack of politicians are not only shrewd and unscrupulous, but extremely powerful and efficient.
I started replying here, but then I took it to your court since it relates more to your post. I think the discussion deserves a post on my end, but that will have to wait until some deadlines have passed.
Your post coincides perfectly with my project … i’m filming a documentary about the religious Intolerance in Lebanon next week (20 -27 March) and i’ve been sort of loving the work of some groups to help decrease the religious tension
but who are we kidding hate groups on facebook are a more popular than love groups and strive to draw differences out rather than unity …