Thousands of Lebanese rally against confessionalism

The power-sharing arrangement has been blamed for most of Lebanon`s problems.

Last Updated: Mar 07, 2011, 10:04 AM IST

Beirut: Thousands of protesters marched in the Lebanese capital Beirut on Sunday to demand an end to the country`s confessional system, in the second such demonstration since last week.

"The people want the fall of the regime," chanted the protesters of all ages as they marched to the headquarters of the state electricity authority.

"Confessionalism is the opium of the masses" and "Revolt to topple the agents of confessionalism”, read some banners at the rally.

Inspired by the success of uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, several groups demanding an end to Lebanon`s confessional system have sprouted on the social networking site Facebook.

Lebanon`s system of government is rooted in a 1943 power-sharing agreement along confessional lines adopted after the country won its independence from France.

Aimed at maintaining a balance between the 18 religious sects, the agreement calls for the President to be a Maronite Christian, the Prime Minister to be a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of Parliament a Shi’ite Muslim.

Other government jobs are also allocated according to religious affiliation.

The power-sharing arrangement has been blamed for most of the country`s problems over the decades, including corruption, cronyism and above all the devastating civil war (1975-1990) and subsequent crises.

Sunday`s protest came after a smaller one last week, when hundreds of demonstrators braved heavy rain and marched on the state courthouse to demand a secular political system in Lebanon.

Bureau Report