Lebanon: Constitutive Communities or Minorities?
Lebanon represents one of the most confusing communal conflicts in the contemporary world. The term “lebanisation” stands for the classic case of a state falling apart under communal pressure, hampering the possibility for a smooth process of nation building in a restricted territory. Many questions still remain. Why did the effort to build a consociational polity not work in Lebanon? Was a nation state an alternative for Lebanon? Although Lebanon today is the most Westernised Arab country, it has preserved a structure of fragmented communal identities, reminiscent of the Ottoman system of separation of confessional groups inhabiting the same state (Picard, 1996, p. 10). Lebanon stands apart from other Arab countries containing Christian minorities in two respects. The first is the plurality of sects: Christians (Maronite Catholic, Greek Orthodox, Greek Catholic, Armenian Catholic, Armenian Apostolic, and Protestant) and Muslims (Sunni, Shia, and Druze). The second is the sense of political autonomy among the major sects: Maronite, Druze, and Shia.