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"Sect 19," the new stage play by the brothers Farid and Maher Sabbagh, interrogates the future of Lebanon's sectarian political system.The panacea, however, is not a real cure for the plague of sectarianism.A morality tale on the compatibility of religious belief and secularism, "Sect 19" has some craft about it as well.Clearly though, "Sect 19" is a political play, first and foremost. The Sabbagh brothers make it clear that they are calling on Lebanese to unite under a new sect committed to "co-existence and openness to the others".In doing so, they are at pains to avoid offending the matters of faith underlying Lebanese confessionalism, stressing that doing away with sectarianism isn't an attack on religion as such. Most of the narrative and thematic elements in "Sect 19" can be correlated to the country's recent political history fairly easily.The role that might be played by civil society in overcoming sectarianism, on the other hand, is ignored, as is the institutional corruption that is often justified in sectarian terms, but has more convoluted roots.
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