This past weekend, a “Secular Pride” demonstration was held in Beirut, with several thousand people turning out due to publicity generated through Facebook and other internet sites. Once again, we can thank the power of FREE SPEECH for helping individuals overcome oppression. Let us cheer on those courageous souls rallying for secularism in their governing bodies.
As many as 5,000 people turn out in a grass-roots effort to demand the separation of religion from politics.
They had no blessing from the government. No politician in a big black SUV bankrolled them. None of the television stations controlled by political parties publicized their efforts.
And no cleric preached their cause at the pulpit.
Yet on Sunday morning, thousands of Lebanese, drawn by a largely informal campaign on Facebook and other Internet sites, marched through the heart of Beirut to demand that religion be excised from politics, a rare assertion of secularism in a region increasingly defined by religious identity.
“I don’t believe religion and politics should be mixed,” said Amer Saidi, 28, a student of political science at Lebanese American University, who joined as many as 5,000 people beneath a gleaming blue sky for what many considered the nation’s first “secular pride” demonstration. “Religion should not be used as a political tool.”
Saidi said he was born a Shiite Muslim but considers himself agnostic. He vowed to strike his religion from his national identity card, an option recently permitted by Interior Minister Ziad Baroud, a champion of nonprofit organizations and other civil groups that organized the march….