Baháʼí in Lebanon: Who am I?
By Hala Nouhad Nasreddine, Investigative Unit Coordinator at Daraj Media
While the living conditions for Baháʼís in Lebanon are better than in the rest of the Arab World, despite officially recognizing 18 religions, the country has never recognized the Baha’i faith, thus denying the community one of its basic rights. Accordingly, a huge percentage of the Lebanese population is not even aware of the existence of the Baháʼís in their country.
We conducted a social experiment in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, as part of a joint project on the Baháʼí minority in the Middle East, and specifically Lebanon, implemented by Daraj Media and supported by Minority Rights Group. We set out to explore the lack of understanding surrounding Baháʼís in Lebanon and catch the results on film.
The experiment started off by reaching out to Lebanon’s small Baháʼí community. Their spokesperson connected Daraj’s team to five young Baháʼí people, who became the main participants of the experiment. After several meetings, the youth had their portraits artistically taken and a few of their favorite spiritual or religious quotes noted down.
In parallel, Daraj’s team reached out to more than 20 young people from diverse religious and geographical backgrounds, who were then invited to the exhibition (that they knew nothing about), in which the pictures of the Baháʼí youth along with their quotes were displayed.
The attendees were asked to predict the sect or religion of each of the five people pictured.
Though all religious identities were written on cards in front of them, none of the young people present considered or even noticed the Baháʼí card. They were all astonished when the Baháʼí participants of the experiment came out and identified themselves as Baháʼís.
Yet the experiment was not only confined to the short film. It was an opportunity for young people to understand more about the Baháʼí faith and get to meet their Baháʼí peers, who share similar ideas, needs, and concerns in this turbulent country. The experiment highlights that all those youth, despite their sectarian and geographical differences, have more in common than they might think.
Watch the film
Photo: Screenshot from the film.
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