Fanack Home / Lebanon / Society, Media & Culture / Society / Clans and Communities

Clans and Communities of Lebanon

Lebanon’s somewhat peculiar political system – the President has to be a Maronite, the Prime Minister a Sunni, the Speaker of Parliament a Shiite, the Minister of Defence a Druze, and the parliamentary seats are divided along (religious) community lines, which today often also run along political lines – draws attention to the importance of these communities. In the same vein, each of the eighteen recognized religious denominations has its own laws and courts regarding matters of personal status, such as marriage and divorce, and inheritance. This means that everyone has to be registered with one of these communities.

The Lebanese mixture of cultures is one of the characteristics of the country. As long as they have been accessible, the Lebanese mountains have been a refuge for minorities persecuted elsewhere. These different groups lived in relative harmony for centuries. In the 19th and 20th centuries – partly because of the international situation – tensions grew, eventually leading to clashes and even civil wars.

In the mountain communities, certain families had acquired a leading role. Many of these dynasties still exist and provide today’s political leaders – who, as a negative consequence, are sometimes accused of ‘clientelism’.

Druze at a funeral
Druze at a funeral
Sunni mufti Qabbani (l) greets Shia mufti Qabalan
Sunni mufti Qabbani (l) greets Shia mufti Qabalan
Greek-Orthodox priests in Beirut
Greek-Orthodox priests in Beirut
Mosque in Beirut
Mosque in Beirut

We would like to ask you something …

Fanack is an independent media organisation, not funded by any state or any interest group, that distributes in the Middle East and the wider world unbiased analysis and background information, based on facts, about the Middle East and North Africa.

The website grew rapidly in breadth and depth and today forms a rich and valuable source of information on 21 countries, from Morocco to Oman and from Iran to Yemen, both in Arabic and English. We currently reach six million readers annually and growing fast.

In order to guarantee the impartiality of information on the Chronicle, articles are published without by-lines. This also allows correspondents to write more freely about sensitive or controversial issues in their country. All articles are fact-checked before publication to ensure that content is accurate, current and unbiased.

To run such a website is very expensive. With a small donation, you can make a huge impact. And it only takes a minute. Thank you.