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Lebanon

"Beirut anti-homophobia event pulled after Salafist..."

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Lebanon (/ˈlɛbənɒn/ or /ˈlɛbənən/; Arabic: لبنان‎ Libnān or Lubnān; Lebanese Arabic: [lɪbˈneːn]; Aramaic: לבנאנ), officially the Lebanese Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية اللبنانية‎ Al-Jumhūrīyah Al-Libnānīyah; Lebanese Arabic: [elˈʒʊmhuːɾɪjje l.ˈlɪbneːnɪjje]), is a country in Western Asia. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east and Israel to the south. Lebanon's location at the crossroads of the Mediterranean Basin and the Arabian hinterland has dictated its rich history and shaped a cultural identity of religious and ethnic diversity.
The earliest evidence of civilization in Lebanon dates back more than seven thousand years, predating recorded history. Lebanon was the home of the Phoenicians, a maritime culture that flourished for over a thousand years (c. 1550–539 BC). In 64 BC, the region came under the rule of the Roman Empire, and eventually became one of the Empire's leading centers of Christianity. In the Mount Lebanon range a monastic tradition known as the Maronite Church was established. As the Arab Muslims conquered the region, the Maronites held onto their religion and identity. However, a new religious group, the Druze, established themselves in Mount Lebanon as well, a religious divide that would last for centuries. During the Crusades, the Maronites re-established contact with the Roman Catholic Church and asserted their communion with Rome. The ties they established with the Latins have influenced the region into the modern era.
The region eventually came under the rule of the Ottoman Empire from 1516 to 1918. Following the collapse of the Empire after World War I, the five provinces that constitute modern Lebanon were mandated to France. The French expanded the borders of Mount Lebanon Governorate, which was mostly populated by Maronites and Druze, to include more Muslims. Lebanon gained independence in 1943, establishing a unique political system – "confessionalism" – that is, a power-sharing mechanism based on religious communities. Bechara El Khoury (independent Lebanon's first president), Riad El-Solh (Lebanon's first prime minister) and Emir Majid Arslan (Lebanon's first minister of defence) are considered the founders of the modern Republic of Lebanon and are national heroes for having led the country's independence. French troops withdrew from Lebanon in 1946.
Before the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990), the country experienced a period of relative calm and renowned prosperity, driven by tourism, agriculture, commerce, and banking. Because of its financial power and diversity in its heyday, Lebanon was compared to Switzerland, and its capital Beirut attracted so many tourists that it was known as "the Paris of the Middle-East". At the end of the war, there were extensive efforts to revive the economy and rebuild national infrastructure.

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img Zainab Zaidi posted a review

The first event in Beirut Pride week was cancelled after the hosting venue received threats from a religious group, organisers said on Monday.

Bertho Makso, the director of the "Proud Lebanon" group which was organising the party, told MEE that a Salafist group had called on authorities to prevent the Sunday event - and then issued a second statement directly threatening the venue.

“On Saturday morning we started getting information that some of the radical groups were not happy,” said Makso, naming the Council of Muslim Scholars in Lebanon.

Later that day, Makso said, the hotel venue called to say that Lebanese authorities said it would be better if the event no longer went ahead, due to "serious security threats".

on May 20, 2017
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img Lucas Lynch posted a review

The first ever gay pride event is taking place this week in Lebanon, a country where homosexual acts are still considered a crime.
Instead of the usual gay pride parades seen in the West, Beirut Pride will include an exhibition on gender fluidity in fashion as well as a storytelling get-together centered on coming-out stories and a gay-themed party in one of the Middle East's biggest night clubs.
Several anti-homophobia events and demonstrations have taken place in Lebanon in recent years, but activists are hailing Beirut Pride as a "first".
"This is definitely a big milestone. I'm very excited that this is happening," said Diana Abou Abbas, a member of the queer community since its genesis more than 15 years ago and manager at Beirut sexual-health center Marsa.
The event could break significant ground, just as a recent online and television advertisement did by featuring a lesbian couple. One of Lebanon's oldest and largest restaurant chains, Crepaway, commissioned the ad -- a first for Lebanese advertising -- "to include people we see everywhere around us," its head of communications Mario Thoumy told CNN.

on May 17, 2017
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img Jawad Khan posted a review

Activists campaigning to get Lebanon to abolish an old law that allows rapists to escape punishment for their crimes as long as they marry the survivor have staged a powerful protest on Beirut’s Corniche.

Thirty-one wedding dresses representing each day of the month in which women could be subject to further abuse by attackers who marry them were strung up on the Lebanese capital’s famous seafront to draw attention to Article 522 of the law addressing rape, assault and forced marriage. 

Swaying in the breeze between the palms, they looked like corpses. Abaad – a Lebanese charity focused on women’s rights and helping domestic abuse survivors – staged a similar protest last December, in which women wearing wedding dresses and bandages splattered with red paint demonstrated outside parliament. 

on April 26, 2017
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img Lucas Lynch posted a review

A blog reader sent my way a Huffington Post article that was published yesterday about how Lebanon has the Arab world’s first ever female pastor: Rola Sleiman, who heads the Presbyterian Church in Tripoli, up North.

Rola was ordained as Reverend Rola Sleiman on February 26th, 2017 in a 23-1 vote that makes her, historically, the first Arab woman to ever be the head of a church. In fact, Reverend Suleiman was actually heading the church for the past few years as a pastor, but without being ordained she was unable to perform Communions or Baptisms, and needed to have a male priest oversee her work.

She is now the spiritual leader of her congregation, a job she’s been technically doing since 2008 – except right now, she doesn’t need any men of the cloth to supervise her anymore. Rola Sleiman thinks “it’s not a big deal” that such an event occurred. She says “I was serving my Church and will continue serving.”

But this is a big deal. The fact that a Presbyterian Parish in Tripoli ordained a woman to be their spiritual leader speaks volume about the strides forward that some parts of Lebanese society are doing. Rev. Sleiman is the first woman – ever – in the entire Arab world’s Christian population be be ordained as a priest. In other words, she’s the first woman to break into a calling that’s only been reserved exclusively for men.

That small congregation in Tripoli will now have the honor to be headed by Rev. Rola Suleiman for the following years to come. She’s a woman who is now championing equality in facets of Lebanese – and Arab – societies that we never thought could be broken into. It’s fitting that this occurs at the start of the international month for women empowerment.

Rola Sleiman’s ordainment is of vital importance in the climate of the world today where far-right groups are taking power and throwing minorities and women rights to the back of any tangible importance. As she told Huffington Post: “If the Church discriminates against women, what should we expect of the state? Christ is love, and love does not distinguish between men and women.” She is breaking tradition, ancient rules and cultural sensitivities.

In fact, she may be breaking some of the strongest traditions in the country and the region. For many, their highest form of authority is the priest who has always been a man. This time, it’s a woman. I hope Rev. Suleiman becomes the champion that her position permits her to be.

Of course, this will not change the status quo of the fight for equality between the sexes in Lebanon or the Arab world in general, but it can change some of its dynamics. To have a woman be ordained as a priest for a congregation – even if it’s small – and have that congregation not be opposed to it (as is obvious through that 23-1 vote) speaks volumes about how far we’ve come as a society, and it makes me proud.

In a country and a region where woman, despite being a demographic majority, are vastly under-represented be it in religious affairs, politics, business, etc… Rola Suleiman’s ordainment speaks volumes.

There will be people in this country, Christians and otherwise, who will have a problem having their Church headed by a woman. Catholics and Maronites don’t even allow it. But in a landscape filled by men, a change of perspective and, therefore, a change in direction is what is needed. Rev. Rola Suleiman can be that catalyst towards change in the heart of the Lebanese Church and the face of Arab Christianity.

Here’s to many more years to come in joyous and prosperous service of your altar and congregation, Rev. Suleiman.

on March 5, 2017
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img Zainab Zaidi posted a review

A would-be suicide bomber was stopped by Lebanese security forces before he could detonate the explosives in a thriving part of Beirut.

Lebanese security forces were following the suicide bomber before he entered the Costa Cafe on Al-Hamra street, one of Beirut's most trendiest areas full of cafes and restaurants, and arresting him.

on January 23, 2017
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img Ahmed Malik posted a review

A victim of the Istanbul massacre appeared to predict her own death in a social media posting before she arrived in Turkey, it has emerged.

Rita Chami was killed when an ISIS gunman went on the rampage at the upmarket Reina nightclub on New Year's Eve.

Before travelling to the country Chami, who had recently lost her mother to cancer, wrote on Facebook: 'Hopefully we will have fun [in Turkey], worst case scenario is that I will die in a blast and follow my mum.'


The 26-year-old, a student at the American University of Science and Technology in Lebanon, is said to have died in the arms of her boyfriend, fiance Elias Wardini.

on January 4, 2017
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img Yuri Michael posted a review

In Lebanon, women dressed as brides, in bandages, are calling for the abolition of a law that exonerates a rapist if he marries his victim.

on December 17, 2016
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img Frank Zetta posted a review

Lebanon went deeply into debt to finance reconstruction, and with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 149 percent, it is today the world’s third-most-indebted country. The interest payments total more than a third of the government’s annual spending.

Yet because politicians and their families control one-third of all banking assets — and because Lebanese banks own around 85 percent of the debt — these payments profit the very political leaders sinking Lebanon deeper into debt.

on October 15, 2016
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Beirut anti-homophobia event pulled after Salafist group's threat
Book rating: 45.3 out of 100 with 6 ratings