(photo credit, Lilianne)
If you’re someone who truly cares about secularism in Lebanon, you can do a lot worse than read Walid El Houri’s insightful critique of the Laïque Pride movement and how it is failing to make progress in Lebanon’s pathologically sectarian system
His key argument (which also applies to many NGOs and their causes), is that in order to achieve true mobilization and make a real difference, Lebanon’s secularists should get out of their middle-class activist bubble, have an economic plan, form a political party and try their best to reach the underprivileged:
Mobilization requires reaching out to people whose economic situation does not allow them to see secularism as a valid demand. After all, secularism as such is a vague and meaningless demand if not coupled with a clear cut position in regards to the economy and the organization of the state.
El Houri’s article is a must read for anyone who wishes to advance the cause of secularism. But, and here is where I dissent: Isn’t the word “pride” a rather clear indication that political advancement is the wrong paradigm with which to view the Laïque Pride movement?
In my opinion the Laïque Pride marches are more “Gay Parade” (topic du jour) than “political party in the making”. The idea is that a considerable amount of people will gather to make a point, to tell the others that they exist and that the sectarian system is discriminating against them. Wouldn’t it be strange if gay-parade marchers were asked to come up with economic policy and a way to reach out to the underprivileged?