Conflict & Justice

Preaching calm in Lebanon

Few places are as polarized politically as this neighborhood of Beirut. Poster wars here have led to gun battles recently. This lawyer says the Sunni-Shia split is just one divide in the mosaic. This is his community, one of glitzy malls and western pop music. He says he's always interacted with people of many backgrounds but that's not true of most Lebanese. Several miles south of Beirut is this suburb which Westerners some call Hezbollah-stan. This spokeswoman of the town says politicians stir up ethnic and religions tensions. This newspaper manager says she agrees that if there is violence it will come from politicians stirring the pot but she says distrust between religions in Lebanon runs deep. The distrust is enshrined in Lebanon's constitution, which stipulates that certain political offices be reserved for certain religions. The suspicion trickles down to even mundane aspects of life, says this government worker. It's not terribly surprising that all this wrangling hurts the average citizen. One university study says sectarian-based politics hurts the average wages of every Lebanese worker.

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