The Division of Religion and Religious Sects in Universities in Lebanon
Students across Lebanon in different universities seem to form cliques of consisting of people of their own religion and do not interact with other people.
The Lebanese American University and the American University of Beirut are the most diverse in the country with no specific religion dominating. This mirrors Lebanon’s dynamic, seeing that it is the most culturally diverse country in the Middle East with 18 acknowledged religious sects. The main two religions being Islam, which constitutes 54% of the Lebanese population and consists of Sunnites and Shiites, and Christiantity, which constitutes 40.4% of the Lebanese population and consists of the Maronite Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, the Armenian Apostolic Church. In addition, Druze is a minority religion which constitutes 5% of the population.
However, this cultural diversity does not result in cultural acceptance. In fact, it’s the root of the majority of Lebanon’s political disputes. This tension stems all the way back from the Lebanese civil war. Before the war, the Lebanese government was primarily run by Maronite Chritians, resulting from the French colonial powers which favored a leading position for Christians. This situation is what kick-started the war. The war’s outcomes include the Taif agreement, which focused on political reform, changing a predominantly Christian government into one with 1:1 religious representation, and the strengthening of Muslim prime-ministerial powers. Simultaneously, it resulted in the death of 120,000 citizens, and the emigration of almost a million people of which approximately 76,000 remain displaced as of 2012.
These grave losses are what withholds the tension between not only Muslims and Christians but also between Sunnites and Shiites to this very day. This divide is not only apparent politically but also in several universities which are known to be predominantly a certain religion. For example, Notre Dame University is primarily of the Christian faith, while Beirut Arab University consists primarily of Shiites. LAU and the American University of Beirut, however, are more contrasting when it comes to religion.
This diversity in the American universities is a huge step forward and can end up possibly mending the bridge formed by the civil war. This change for the better is displayed in the interviews below where the LAU and AUB students were more prone to having a diverse group of friends. On the other hand, this is harder for students at NDU, not necessarily because of their mentality but mainly due to the general lack of diversity.
A chronology of key events: 1516-1918 - Lebanon part of the Ottoman Empire. 1920 September - The League of Nations…www.bbc.com
The Lebanese Civil War was both an internal Lebanese affair and a regional conflict involving a host of regional and…www.sciencespo.fr