Religious Sectarianism
Adel Beshara
Sectarianism in Lebanon has worsened progressively within the last two years decades claiming hundreds of lives.
Although sectarianism in the Lebanese context often refers to the conflict between the majority Muslims and minority Christians, this definition is misleading. These two groups are not homogenous, having their own subsects, local variants and different schools of thought. These, too, are in opposition to each other, the divide between different Muslim subsects being equally wide as the divide with Christians. Even though most of the violence branded as 'sectarian' is violence between Muslims and Christians, the sectarian terrain is wider. Thus, looking at sectarianism in Lebanon only as a Muslim-Christian problem is too simplistic, as is to assume that there is only one 'sectarian conflict' in Lebanon.

Sectarianism is always tied to religion since it "is the factor that makes an attitude, an action, a belief, or a structure specifically sectarian -as opposed to being simply generally bad or destructive." Since the security paradigms struggle to grasp subject matters related to beliefs and their interpretation it is easy to emphasize the political goals of the sectarian groups. But religion is not merely a boundary marker, signifying the boundaries of the conflicting parties without any significant content or influence to the 'real' dividing factors.

Thus, the working of a sectarian group is always attached to a religious discourse. And, as seen with other religious militarism, religious discourse can have a "persuasive project" - it can attach practice to discourse by defining it as religiously sanctioned, and thus can provide justification to ethnic or political claims. Of course, sectarianism is not only about the purity of religious dogma either, but in Pakistan, the political content of the sects and the religious content of politics are blurred realities.

Sectarianism is tearing Lebanon apart - yet again. Regrettably, after a civil war that claimed thousands of lives the Lebanese have learned little about the wickedness of religious sectarianism and the danger that lurks behind it.

Wake up Lebanese, Muslim and Christians. If you continue to fight among each other over Heaven you will have nothing on earth left to share.