A Diamond’s Eye View of the World

a multi-faceted look at the middle east, and the middle west

against sectarianism … in Achrafiyeh?

Posted by adiamondinsunlight on November 15, 2006

For the past week or so I have been captivated by a new series of PSAs running in the Daily Star, Lebanon’s only English language paper and usually the first in a series of morning online jarida reads for me.

Thanks to a timely email from my friend E, I now know whence they came: they are part of the “stop sectarianism” campaign being put on by a group called 05 amam (the letters stand for the group’s Arabic name: Al-Mujtamah Al-Madani, or Civil Society [20]05).

This is my favorite psa:

Ta’ifi doctors

05amam’s website describes the campaign as follows:

Stop Sectarianism Campaign
Awareness campaign on sectarianism

Background:

Since 1920, Lebanese society has been structured according to religious confessions or sects. Within a country of 10,000 km², we have over 17 official religious sects.

Sectarianism is intertwined in our daily life, and has been so for years, officially and in society. Most official positions are based on religious denominations.

Sectarianism was one of the main factors leading to the civil war, but even today, everybody still thinks along religious lines and divides people into sectarian groups.

The topic was always a taboo subject, until the “Spring Revolution” of 2005. With this movement, the creation of civil society groups brought together people from every religion, and made it clear to many that civil society-led initiatives could effectively make a difference.

The campaign:

The campaign focuses on the ridiculous/harmful side of sectarianism/confessionalism and its excesses in our every day life.

Generously conceived for AMAM by a multi-confessional creative team of like-minded people from the H&C Leo Burnett agency, the campaign is bound to make you both laugh and think. The tone, which is innovative, provocative, funny and straight to the point, will most certainly generate debate and provoke much-needed thinking about the reality of how far confessionalism dictates our every day social behaviour.

Like us, you think confessionalism is a plague which has been eating away at this country for as long as one can remember. Like us, you also think this country, despite all its flaws and complexities, remains a place like no other, one we should cherish, support & believe in. Like us, you have surrendered to the Lebanese spell, and have vowed to always keep trying, in your own way, to make things better. Like us, you are a believer in the unique richness and potential found in the Lebanese pluri-confessional make-up. We hope you like this campaign. If you do, and wish to support us for other citizenship-building awareness campaigns of this kind, please get in touch. Thank you.

( http://www.05amam.org/projects_sects.html)

I adore the psas, which come in print, billboard, and “ambient” forms, and I think the campaign is both timely and needed. But … I note that 05Amam is based in Achrafieh. Could this group of “democratic, independent, Lebanese women & men from the civil society made up of voluntary people from all religious denominations and not affiliated to any political party” (http://www.05amam.org/who.html ) not have found some more neutral Beirut neighborhood for their headquarters?

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