Global News Journal

Beyond the World news headlines

Lebanese lovers escape sectarian strait-jacket


Lebanon’s beaches, ski slopes and nightclubs exude glitzy modernity. Its educated elite appears cosmopolitan and sophisticated. But beneath the gloss lie deeply traditional aspects of a society reluctant to shake off a sectarian power-sharing system in which loyalty to one of Lebanon’s 17 religious communities takes precedence over citizenship.

    Nothing illustrates this better than star-crossed lovers.

    Take Laure and Ali, who began dating six years ago after a chance encounter at university in Beirut when they were both 21. She studied political science and now works for an international aid organization. He is a computer and communications engineer.

    Long ago they decided to wed, but there was a snag. Laure is Christian, Ali a Shi’ite Muslim, though they say these identities are just “on paper”. Their families opposed the match across the religious divide, just as they were against the romance from the start.

    “My parents had different arguments, none of them convincing,” recalls Laure. “They said the two families would never get along. They worried what people would say. They said: ‘He’s going to force you to wear a veil, maybe now he’s tolerant, but later he will get more and more into religion’. And then it was the kids, what would the kids be?”