This Week In Lebanon: 5/7/2022

Saturday, May 7, 2022


May 7, 2022

Mapping Lebanon III: The Diaspora
5.5 percent of Lebanon’s voters are based in the diaspora with France, the United States, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, and Australia topping the list of foreign countries where registered voters are based. [L’Orient Today]


“The US  has the second highest number of registered voters in the diaspora for the upcoming parliamentary elections in Lebanon. These voters can make a difference in several contested seats in various districts throughout Lebanon. A net change of ten seats from the current ruling majority could result in a new opposition majority in parliament. The bottom line is that your vote counts and can make a difference. Please vote.”

-ATFL President Edward M. Gabriel

Major Religious Figures Encourage Participation in Upcoming Elections
As the May 15th Parliamentary Elections approach, several major religious leaders in Lebanon have encouraged the Lebanese people to participate in the voting process, albeit with different messages. At his most recent Sunday sermon, the Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rahi called on the Lebanese people, “to tell the world what Lebanon they want … [promoting] a free, democratic and neutral Lebanon; a Lebanon with an historical identity, founded on justice and equality with one army and constitutional institutions.” [Vatican News] Sunni Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian in his Eid al-Fitr sermon warned that, “abstaining is the magic formula for corrupt people to come to power.” [Arab News]

“These pleas by the heads of several confessional groups in Lebanon illustrate the extent of the seriousness of voting in the May 15 Parliamentary elections. Their messages echo what we were told in Lebanon, that the people are suffering, there is too much corruption, and the election is a key action to moving in a better direction. While the sentiments may vary, the central tenet is the same, people are obliged to vote; it is a moral, national, and religious duty. Free, fair, and transparent elections are the only way forward and it is in the hands of the Lebanese people.”

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Lebanon Drops in Freedom of Press Rankings
The press freedom advocacy organization, Reporters Without Borders, issued its annual world press freedom ranking today. In its 20th iteration, Lebanon came in at 130th out of 180 countries ranked, which is a downgrade from its position of 107th just last year in 2021. In particular RSF took into account the political affiliations of Lebanese media outlets’ ownership in addition to Lebanon’s defamation laws and patterns of harassment, economic pressure, and discrimination against journalists. [L’Orient Today]


“If one is known by the company it keeps, then Lebanon is clearly becoming a pariah. Not only did it fall 23 places in the annual press freedom ranking, its reputation as a progressive thinking society with open discourse and freedom of expression protected by the courts has fallen through the basement. It now shares space with military juntas, autocratic regimes, and human rights abusers from left to right, on every continent, with little to distinguish this as a temporary setback. Perhaps the elections will return a future government that will restore Lebanon’s place as a democratic and free society.”

-ATFL Vice President Jean AbiNader

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of the American Task Force on Lebanon, a non-profit, nonpartisan leadership organization of Lebanese-Americans.