In June 18, 2019, Facebook publishes, Lebanese Muslim social and political activist Muhammad ‘Awwad discovered that the municipality of Al-Hadath, a Lebanese town in Beirut’s southeastern suburbs, bans the sale and condo of homes to Muslims. Al-Hadath turned into at first a Christian metropolis and its municipality is still dominated via Christians, although these days most of the people of its residents are Muslim. ‘Awwad wrote that he tried to hire a rental within the metropolis, however, the landlady advised him that the neighborhood authority prohibited renting to Muslims, a claim that he later established with the municipal authority itself. Subsequently, a recording of a communique among ‘Awwad’s spouse, Sara Ra’ed, and a worker on the municipality, who informed her that this ban has been in effect for decades, additionally went viral on social media.
Given the sensitive sectarian cloth of Lebanese society, the affair sparked an uproar on social media and responses from neighborhood leaders, in addition to from Lebanese MPs and different senior officers. Many Muslims on social media attacked the ban as racist and unlawful. Lebanese Interior Minister Raya Al-Hassan said that it contravened the Lebanese charter, which sweepingly prohibits restricting belongings offers on a sectarian foundation.
Al-Hadath mayor George ‘Aoun, a Christian, hastened to rebuff the criticism and justify the metropolis’s policies, explaining that the ban has been in impact for many years and is meant to maintain the sectarian character of the city, which changed into at the beginning Christian. He also claimed that Lebanese President Michael ‘Aoun and leaders of the Shi’ite actions within the country support this selection. As a count of fact, there reportedly exists an unwritten settlement among the Al-Hadath management and the Shi’ite Hizbullah intended to preserve the sectarian identification of groups in Beirut’s southern suburbs. The Lebanese media also claimed that sectarian restrictions on residency exist in different places in Lebanon as nicely.
The media buzz created by way of the affair triggered Al-Hadath’s Christian residents to stage a demonstration in aid of the mayor and his coverage. A few days after the demonstration, the flag of the Shi’ite Amal movement became hung over the municipality constructing in an act of counter-protest. However, Amal leader and Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri condemned the act and clarified that he had ordered to analyze it. Berri expressed knowledge for the emotions of the town’s Christian residents and their desire to keep their manner of existence and the prevailing social cloth.
A survey of the responses to the incident well-known shows that they in large part follow sectarian lines, with the supporters of the ban by and large Christian and its opponents commonly Muslim and Druze.
This record affords translated excerpts from some of the responses by means of Lebanese officials and within the Lebanese press.
Supporters Of The Ban: This Is An Old Arrangement Made With Hizbullah, Crucial For Preserving Coexistence
In a June 21, 2019 interview with the Lebanese website elnashra.Com, Al-Hadath Mayor George ‘Aoun explained that the ban had been instated by means of the municipality already in 2010, whilst it has become recognized that, in view that 1990, 60% of the town’s houses were bought through Shi’ites. He claimed that the ban became supposed to keep the city’s demographics range, and was extensively supported by the town residents, in addition to by using Lebanese officers, consisting of President Michel ‘Aoun and the leaders of the USA’s Shi’ite movements, Parliamentary Speaker Nabih Berri and Hizbullah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah. Noting that President ‘Aoun, in addition to Foreign Minister and Free Patriotic Movement head Gebran Bassil, had contacted him personally to express their aid, he added that the choice conformed to the charter and become aimed toward preserving coexistence within the city. He warned that if the ban changed into canceled he might renounce.
Al-Hadath resident Hikmat Dib, a member of the Free Patriotic Movement, additionally justified the policy and defined the heritage to the choice and the understandings reached between the municipality and Hizbullah. Dib said that, since the Lebanese Civil War in the Seventies, Christians were leaving the city, sometimes due to persuasion or intimidation, hinting at Shi’ites who moved into the town and acquired homes there. “This scenario,” he defined, “forced us to signal [an agreement of] political understandings with Hizbullah.” The settlement was signed in 2006 beneath the non-public sponsorship of President ‘Aoun and Hizbullah Secretary-General Nasrallah, and was aimed at stopping the emigration of Christians from the town, he stated. Deb claimed that Nasrallah even asked Shi’ite traders and entrepreneurs to ignore the Al-Hadath vicinity that allows you to maintain coexistence.
Ghassan Hajjar, editorial director of the Christian-owned Lebanese each day Al-Nahar, wrote in a column that the ban changed into a practical and “nationally courageous” step, due to the fact the town’s original Christian population had diminished and referred to that in Hizbullah-ruled regions similar bans have been in impact. He brought: “Everyone has expressed his opinion [on this affair], whether they recognize it or now not: secularists and fundamentalists, [as well as] folks that stay some distance from Al-Hadath and from all of the regions wherein there’s coexistence, and especially citizens of homogenous villages. Some were against and a few have been in prefer, however, maximum did now not base their positions on any considerable arguments. The hole among the [Lebanese] charter and laws [on the one hand] and the realities of existence [on the other] are mammoth…”