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Uncertain future for Lebanon’s religious minorities – new briefing

10 December 2014

‘We do not dream of a separation between religion and other issues. Religion in Lebanon is other issues: it is social and political.’ Jehovah’s Witness, September 2014

Key findings

  • A comprehensive analysis of the current situation for Lebanon’s unrecognised, often forgotten, and highly vulnerable minorities
  • Unrecognised minorities are Lebanon’s weakest link, unrepresented in governmental positions, excluded from higher public functions and forced to register under one of the recognized religions in order to vote
  • Members of unregistered religions cannot marry, divorce or inherit according to their own rules
  • Without recognition, and legal and social reforms needed to make them an official part of country’s rich and diverse mosaic, unrecognised minorities won’t benefit from full protection or equally exercise their civil and political rights
  • Attention has been focused on ISIS and its attacks, particularly in Iraq and Syria. Religious fundamentalism and the divisions it creates have been ravaging the region. Other internal threats however, such as radicalization, growing inter-sectarian schism and conflict, pose larger challenges to Lebanon’s future and stability
  • The briefing, based on desk and first-hand field research, includes recommendations for the Lebanese government and religious leaders
  • Unrecognised minorities in Lebanon include, but are not limited to, Bahá’i, Hindus, Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints, Zoroastrians, protestant evangelical groups, Hindus and Buddhists
  • Lebanon has always been known for its rich diversity of faiths. With population of only 4.5 million people, the country hosts more than 1 million refugees and officially recognizes 18 different religious communities, including 12 Christian and 4 Muslim denominations, as well as the Druze faith and Judaism

Minority Rights Group International (MRG) will launch the new report, The leaves of one tree: Religious Minorities in Lebanon, on 10 December 2014

For further information, copies of the report or to arrange interviews contact:

Interview opportunities are available with:

  • Mark Lattimer, Executive Director, MRG (English)

MRG Press Office
T: + 44 207 422 4205
E: [email protected]
Twitter: @minorityrights