As the wheels slowly felloff yet another ‘national unity’ government last month, Lebanon’s politicalclass apparently had enough time to re-hash some old ideas and present them aslegislation. But of all the bad ideas that Lebanese politicians have come upwith to preserve the “diversity” of the country, the most recent draft lawproposed by Labor Minister Butros Harb is likely the most regressive anddivisive.
Harb’s proposal to ban thesale of land between individuals from different religions for a period of 15years is nothing new and stems back as far as the 1860s, when Lebanon’s first“civil war” erupted. But supposing that the minister has read the constitution,he would know all too well that his proposal contravenes the principles ofequality among the Lebanese, the right to private property, a free economy, andthe fact that “there is no segregation of the people on the basis of any typeof belonging, and no fragmentation, partition, or colonization.”
Then again, governmentregularly makes a habit of ignoring the constitution, from its obligation tohold timely sessions of parliament to that of passing a national budget, soperhaps we should regard Harb’s proposal as par for the course. At a time whenthe issue of Christians in the Middle East is particularly loaded, Harb mayhave used the opportunity to promote himself as the torchbearer of age-oldChristian paranoia over being engulfed by the wider Muslim, and in this caseShia, population.