“A civil marriage not a civil war!” While the youth from Tunis, Benghazi and Cairo were fighting against their dictator, the one from Beirut was marching this spring for… the right to get civilly married. As a matter of fact, in Lebanon, getting married is also a political issue. Indeed, in this small country of 4 million people, 18 religious communities are sharing the political power proportionally to their demographic size. This cohabitation is still precarius, 20 years after a civil war that tore the country apart for 15 years. Nowadays, in Lebanon, it is still impossible to get married with someone from a different religion, unless the bride gives up her confession or the future spouses say “I do” abroad. And this solution makes hotel managers, Tour Operators in Cyprus (a 30 minute-flight away from Beirut) delighted. Each year, they welcome hundreds of young Lebanese couples ready to travel abroad to get civilly married. Even couples from the same community make this choice, as a symbol to claim to a secular state in Lebanon. This demand gathered thousands of people in a “Civil pride” and other marches that took place in the Lebanese capital this spring to claim to the end of the confessional system in Lebanon. In this demos, there was a generation that grew up during the civil war and now dream of a peaceful and secular Lebanon. They are Shiite, Sunni, Protestant, Christian Maronite or Orthodox, From Beirut to Nicosia, we followed some young couples who decided –some of them secretly from their family- to get civilly married in Cyprus. A way for them to support this secular revolution that may take long time.
[Published in Causette n°22, march 2012]