In Lebanon, a Campaign to Get God Out of Politics

Demonstrations are hardly unusual in Lebanon, where politics is often conducted on the streets. But the few thousand people who gathered in Beirut on Sunday to march on the country’s parliament made for an unusual sight, mostly because of what was missing. There were hardly any religious symbols or sectarian political banners among them, in […]

Lebanon’s Bernie Madoff: A Scandal Taints Hizballah

Business magnate Salah Ezzeddine was known as a pious, generous man. Hailing from a small Shi’ite Muslim town in southern Lebanon, he was a success story among the country’s poorest, historically marginalized religious sect. With his reputation for generosity (he built a stadium and a mosque for his hometown of Maaroub, sponsored pilgrimages to Mecca […]

Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll in a Failing State

Despite a jihadist uprising in the north, a political crisis in the capital, and rumors of war swirling all around, it’s business as usual in Beirut’s packed nightclubs. The good-looking people in this good-time town have long partied to a familiar soundtrack of popping champagne corks, clacking high-heels, and the generic beat of computer-generated dance […]

Inside the Hizballah War Museum

Ever wonder what it’s like inside a Hizballah bunker but not so eager to get kidnapped just to find out? Well, for a short time and a short time only, anyone in Lebanon can experience the next best thing by visiting the new Hizballah museum in the southern suburbs of Beirut, where there is no […]

The Second Coming of Bashar

Soldiers at the normally dour border crossing between Lebanon and Syria were dabka circle dancing and passing out candy. The streets of the Syrian capital were lined with tents stocked with tea and shawarma sandwiches. Billboards Proclaimed: We Believe in Freedom, We Believe in History, We Believe in You. Syrian state television blared old fashioned […]