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Lebanon Grand Mufti Bristles at Call for Legalizing Civil Marriage

“Any Muslim with legal or executive authority in Lebanon who supports the legalization of civil marriage is an apostate and outside the religion of Islam.

Those are the words of Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, Lebanon's top Sunni cleric. Qabbani is opposed to new moves towards legalizing civil marriages in Lebanon, so that people of different faiths can marry within a country that has a long history of religious diversity. Today, Lebanese of different faiths who wish to marry have to travel to Cyprus, Turkey or other countries to do so legally.

Qabbani can be reliably counted upon to bark out whenever a good dose of hostile intolerance and narrow thinking is required. When he is not issuing fatwas against civil marriage, Qabbani busies himself with making anti-semitic statements and propagating conspiracy theories about Jews, as when he claimed that 9/11 was "orchestrated" by Jews in order "to justify the persecution of Muslims worldwide" or, when he stated, of "The Innocence of Muslims" film,  "the Jews are behind all of this. What is scandalous is that this film was funded by 100 Jews, who paid five million dollars."

In a country that is often known as a diverse and moderate state within a region more often associated with the spread of militant Islamism, the religious authorities in Lebanon can still be counted upon to promote intolerance and fundamentalist doctrine, rather than ever daring to be a voice of enlightenment and forward-thinking inspiration for their followers. Alas, the Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani is not alone in clinging to backward ideas; it seems to be the perfunctory response of unelected robed men who cling to the past, and shun change and modernity.

 

Lauryn Oates is Assistant Editor for The Propagandist.

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