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In the Newsroom

April 28, 2009
Lebanese youth debate secularism and sectarianism

Worldfocus correspondent Kristen Gillespie reported on the signature story “Beirut’s American University preaches tolerance, democracy” — featuring a college campus that promotes a radical idea in the Middle East: free speech and democracy. 

In the back corner of the fourth floor of West Hall, the Secular Club shares a small room with the Palestine Culture Club. The room is big enough to hold a few desks and chairs.

As we get ready to film the discussion, the students start joking about how the space is divided down the middle of the room by a row of paper Palestinian flags taped to the ceiling. Typical Arab unity, says one, Palestinians alone and everyone else on the other side. Laughs all around.

But it’s the most practical arrangement, says another, and everyone agrees. A poster of Yasser Arafat from the 1970s is turned to face the wall. For this filming, the Secular Club is crossing into Palestinian territory.

I was looking for a student club to talk to for this report and happened to wander in to West Hall, where Ahmad, the young man with the dark beard and leather jacket who participated in the roundtable discussion, was exhibiting his watercolor paintings. One is on the poster for the Secular Club, seen in the report.

Ahmad and some other friends from the club sat down to talk about secularism as the only solution for the future of Lebanon. A system based on religious quotas means a fractious, divided society where intermarriage is discouraged and people live within prescribed geographical and social boundaries.

It’s common for a taxi driver who lives in Muslim West Beirut not to be familiar at all with major landmarks in sections of Christian East Beirut. He may never have even been there before, just a few miles from his home.

The Secular Club, and the slowly growing secular movement in Lebanon, want to move beyond these social boundaries; for people to be Lebanese citizens first, and to be judged on their merits, not on their religion.

– Kristen Gillespie

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Comments

4 comments

#4

They are now the most important club in the american university of beirut. they are the most active club there now

#3

Perhaps, it should have been, previously, mentioned–or, at the very least: be memtioned, here, now…that, what these students, here, are doing, saying, and thinking could be, by analogy, considered [in parallel] in the same manner as what is known concerning the Ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Amenhotep IV (Ahknaton) and the teachings of his mystical school as well as what is known of the Rock Edicts of the Emperor Asoka
(of India) in the centuries before Christ.

Their [The Pharaoh’s and Emperor’s] thoughts of evolved Truth-Thinking are shown–in this piece– to be alive and well…
in these particular students (and, perhaps, many more students–among others–in many other lands)…as shown here.

#2

If more of what is seen and said in this piece… as written and shown here…could be seen more comprehensively in the Middle East and from the Middle East: …be seen by the Entire World:

There might, then: be achieved–if not a “definitively permanent” peace…yet? a more “broadly regional” and (possibly) a more “peaceful (in some areas, at least) landscape” in many Middle Eastern historical places as well as individual dwellings of families.
(The Middle East was, once, a great place of Learning in many Arts!) …because of this:

May true Sunrise shine on all students–who think as these students, here, do…most willingly (in their heart of hearts) …thinking by way of all due circumspection toward channels everflowing from the Fountain of Eternally Pure Truth whether or not such Truth is ever accepted enough on Earth or brings long-lasting peace to Humankind or not.

The Efforts these students are making today can never be made in vain nor ever be considered to be as undertaken in vain at any time.
They [the students shown here], at least, tried… and are trying, diligently, still:
to move toward finding the most rationally workable and most Reasonable Solutions–not mere “solutions” or “disguises” of “final solutions” which few can ever agree upon!–in a very bright and clear-minded Way….which has always been, is now, and always will be The Ancient Way Of Life.

In other words:
Religion [as it is being perceived by these students] is still embraced impartially with toleration…but is made a “stumbling block” to none by Way of a more natural, a more open-minded, a more naturally tolerable and tolerant functioning of spiritual and human governments.

This [as previously stated] is an ancient conception…and, still?
after all the centuries that have passed?
This is a very Sublime Conception, indeed!

If these students are ignored by their government…then, the World As A Whole will show itself to want no “resemblance” of any peace and shall, thereby: never have any true Form and Substance of Peace at any time for
any Length Of Time.

Peace Be Upon These Students And All Their Families…and All Who Are Willing To Think
Like In A Clear Minded Way.

#1

The Man who stated “What we are trying to do is not against religion”–along with the woman in the brevity of her “commentary” (in which much of her thinking left unsaid what did, in truth, still underlie what was audibly said)–is thinking from a mind which seems (in nature) like a Fountain-In-Nature from which could (potentially) spring a certain calming flowing “primordial” purity mingled with a particularly “contemporary” fresh water clarity which could (potentially…and in theory, at least) become “drinkable” enough (in the modern era) when such waters would begin to, eventually, spill (further) as clear liquid “insights-evolving-into-ongoing-processes-of-insightful-processes-of-thinking” (over the current limited levels of, sometimes, uninsightful philosophical thinking) into future generations (to whatever extent)…those “human rivers” of clear thinking
who could yet “cleanse” (not ethnically!!), at least: some of the streets that have been (for centuries) rendered (metaphorically, but sometimes literally [and, ethnically!!]): (occasionally) filthy with the results of various methods of violence (both in thoughts and actions) toward the lives and thoughts of others.

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