When I used to look at Rio de Janeiro’s favelas, Brazil’s infamous shanty towns, dotting the city’s lush mountains overlooking its glorious shores, it was difficult to imagine the existence of such dire poverty. I had never seen anything like that anywhere I had been, nor had I seen anything like it in Lebanon. It seemed like an irreversible curse that a country, blessed with such beauty and with a people so happy and content with the simple pleasures in life, had to endure such injustice and inequality.
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“We just want to remind people, for those who don’t know what is secularism, secularism doesn’t mean being against God, secularism is just the separation between religion and state, secularism makes all citizens equal before the law with the same rights, secularism leads us from confessionalism to citizenship.”
(Closing remarks on satirical show “CHI NN” on Lebanese Al Jadeed TV, February 4, 2013)
With raging discussions on a new electoral law and civil marriage in recent weeks, the role of religion has once again been brought to the mainstream political debate. The role of religion in politics and our daily lives is certainly nothing new in Lebanon.
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