File - Lebanese women carry banners during a rally as they call for their right to pass their nationality to their husbands and children in front of the Grand Serail in Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday, April 3, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Active citizenship: holding Lebanon togetherEvery healthy society is built on strong individuals that hold their leaders accountable and work for the greater good. Becoming an active citizen in Lebanon poses problems, however, due to the weakness of the state, and sectarian and political influence, experts say, though there are some people online that manage to operate outside these constraints. The topic of active citizenship was the focus of a three-day conference organized by the Asfari Institute at the American University of Beirut which started Friday.Rania Masri, associate director of the Asfari Institute, said that active citizens are required in Lebanon due to the absence of a strong state. Masri warned, however, that in Lebanon these civil society groups may be counterproductive when they are simply replacing the government and not holding it accountable.Trade unions are another form of active citizenship that is vibrant in Lebanon, and Azzam highlighted the Teachers' Union as a great example of healthy active citizenship.Habib Battah, founder and editor-in-chief of Beirut Report an investigative journalist, has been following grassroots organizations that utilize social media to spread their message and inspire active citizenry.Battah explained that advocacy groups such as Save Beirut Heritage, Protect Lebanon Heritage, and Daliyeh have been able to use social media to spread their message.
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