Last updated: 6 May, 2012

Lebanese protest against confessionalism

More than 1,000 people marched in the Lebanese capital on Sunday calling for the establishment of a secular state in the country which is ruled by a system of power-sharing along religious lines.

“Secularism is the solution,” and “The people demand a civil state,” the crowds chanted as they marched in Beirut streets waving Lebanese flags, an AFP correspondent said.

Many Lebanese blame the current power-sharing system along religious lines for the majority of problems facing the small Mediterranean nation, home to 18 religious sects.

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

Aimed at maintaining a balance between the 18 religious communities, the agreement calls for the president to be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister to be Sunni Muslim and parliament speaker a Shiite.

Other government jobs are also allocated according to religious affiliation.

Many Lebanese believe that this power-sharing arrangement is responsible for most of the country’s problems, including corruption, cronyism and the devastating 1975-1990 civil war.