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Qabbani blasts politicians for scheming to uphold ‘fake democracy’

  • Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani criticized politicians on both sides of the divide. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani slammed politicians across the country’s political divide Wednesday, saying that both the March 14 and March 8 coalitions are working to maintain Lebanon’s failing political system.

“The dictatorship of the politicians, the zuama [leaders] and the political parties continues to bless the sharp divisions between the members of this nation so that they [political leaders] can exploit them for political gains through lies and deceit,” Qabbani said.

In the statement, made on the occasion of Prophet Mohammad’s birthday, Qabbani delivered one of his most scathing criticisms of rival political leaders since he became mufti in 1989.

Qabbani said that while Lebanese citizens must tackle the sectarian differences that undermine the functions of the state, politicians are working to maintain “a fake democracy.”

“To this day, we are still looking for reasons behind our disputes, making this another cause for our weakness, and we have even boasted for a long time that we, and no one else, enjoy democracy in the Levant,” Qabbani said.

“In the Arab region, we see people who are ahead of us, people who fought and achieved freedom and democracy for themselves,” he said in reference to the wave of uprisings in the Arab world. “But we remain captives of a fake democracy that carries with it the ugliest forms of complex dictatorship, horrible sectarian practices and speculative policies,” Qabbani added.

The mufti’s comments were made amid an ongoing political stalemate in the country, as rival coalitions continue to negotiate a new election law for the upcoming parliamentary elections.

“Congratulations to us and Lebanon on this democracy and the dictatorship we are living in,” he said sarcastically.

Addressing Lebanese of all sects, Qabbani warned that Lebanon cannot become a truly democratic state so long as the “dictatorships” of both leaders and parties continue to strengthen divides and provoke disputes among fellow citizens, validating their authority over various communities.

Qabbani accused rival political coalitions of standing in the way of reform and progress in Lebanon, and said their claims that they are struggling to reform the country’s laws are false.

“All [political leaders] benefit from each other in this complex dictatorial system which generates a nonstop conflict and prevents our system from progressing. Parliament is the voice of the people.” He also called on Lebanese to “wake up ... before strife tears them apart and [they] lose themselves and their homeland Lebanon, and before they regret it.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 24, 2013, on page 3.
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