Elections and Clerics

Elections and Clerics

| Wednesday 11 May 2022

Carole Salloum, “Akhbar al-Yawm” agency     

Are they able to change the equation and induce people to vote?

With the start of the countdown to next Sunday's election, political parties and opposition forces, or so-called "forces of change", are preparing for a major battle.

As we get closer to the deadline, the higher the voices calling for mass voting. This time a section of the Lebanese people are carefully considering their choices, whether voting or boycotting. Because the hesitation prevails among many for various reasons, most notably the widespread belief that the "old ones will stay" or because a decision not to participate in the elections was taken, which is meant the decision of the Future Movement, more than one letter was addressed to citizens to urge them to vote, this is the case for religious sermons on Friday in mosques or religious sermons in churches.

The fundamental decision of the high spiritual authority has been issued... Therefore, sheikhs and priests focus on the Lebanese exercising their democratic right. They repeat it in every occasion. Forces and parties are making calls for these references in an attempt to find out the trends of voters.

Because the cleric has the power of influence, many adhere to his appeals, while others respect his words and end up taking the measures he deems appropriate.

Are clerics able to change the equation and induce people to vote?

Observers explain to the "Akhbar al-Yawm" agency that the clerics are supportive of a particular political or partisan orientation, and this is reflected in their positions, but some of them prefer to keep his conviction for himself, that the issue of participation remains the concern. Some may openly declare their choices in order to effectively influence a wide segment of people's opinion and may succeed in doing so, while some clerics fear a sectarian retreat or the absence of a sect from the electoral scene, hence leaving no means but to urge them to vote without interfering in the choices.

The same observers say that there is talk about the intervention of some clerics in favor of certain lists and support them, but this matter can not be generalized, pointing out that many know well that these elections are not similar to others and according to this basis some voters act on the opportunity to make a real assessment of what has been recorded in Lebanon in the past years and elect candidates who have nothing to do with the current system.

The proper role of spiritual references lies, according to the same circles, in adopting the language of reason and guiding people and helping them to express freely within the right guaranteed by the laws for them, pointing out that there is anticipation of what may be said in the sermons on Friday and the sermons this Sunday before the voters go to the polls, and may serve as the last call for those who choose to stay at home and not to vote, so that he may change his mind and participate.

In the end, the Lebanese voter finds himself free to choose, as his vote belongs to him alone.

Some positions

Yesterday that the grand mufti of the Republic Sheikh Abdul Latif Deryan, through the General Directorate of Islamic Endowments, directed the imams and preachers of mosques to allocate prayer sermons after tomorrow Friday in various parts of Lebanon to stimulate the Sunni community and urged them to participate in "exercising their national duty by electing their representatives in the parliament and choosing the fittest and most competent and who is worthy to take over this secretariat, and urged citizens to go to the polls to vote, which is an opportunity for change.

This comes after Mufti al-Jaafari, the excellent Sheikh Ahmed Qablan, addressed the Eid al-Iftar sermon to Shiite voters by saying that "electoral entitlements is a major cult and a religious obligation," forbidding boycotting the entitlement or voting with a white paper. While calling the electoral battle "God's greatest virtue", he called on voting for the "Shiite duo" (Hezbollah and the Amal Movement) and their allies.

Also Maronite Patriarch Bshara Boutros al-Rahi renewed his call on the Lebanese to participate massively in the parliamentary elections on Sunday saying "fair elections begin the right democracy, It is a huge responsibility that requires consideration, comparison, evaluation and then selection".

In the same context, the Metropolitan of Beirut and its Dependencies of the Greek Orthodox Bishop Elias Audi, in a sermon Sunday on May 8, said, "the people are required not to give in to despair and inaction, but to write their own destiny with their own hands, and decide courageously what they want and what they do not want". He saw in the parliamentary elections an opportunity to get out of the bottom of hell that the country and the people have reached. He added: "Next Sunday is an opportunity for everyone who believes in democracy to express their opinion freely and with responsibility, and to elect those who see the possibility of salvation for our beloved country".

On the occasion of the electoral entitlement, the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Mount Lebanon, Archbishop Silwan Moussa issued a pastoral letter, in which he said: "We are invited to participate in it this weekend, it is a test of our attachment to the soil of this homeland", saying: "We must not resign from the duty of good selection of candidates or from the duty to attend the polls with understanding and care, for the good of the homeland and its sons".

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