Hundreds protest Lebanon's 'sectarian' government

AP News
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Posted: Feb 27, 2011 8:41 AM
Hundreds protest Lebanon's 'sectarian' government

About 500 people waving flags and chanting for national unity have gathered in Beirut in a protest inspired by the wave of demonstrations across the Middle East.

The crowd held signs Sunday criticizing the sectarian makeup of Lebanon's government. According to Lebanon's power-sharing system, the president must be a Maronite Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the parliament speaker a Shiite Muslim.

Each faith makes up about a third of Lebanon's population of 4 million.

Organizers used Facebook to publicize the demonstration, which was peaceful and dispersed by midday. Protesters called for a secular government.

Sectarian tensions are dangerous in Lebanon. In 2008, sectarian clashes killed 81 people and nearly plunged Lebanon into another civil war.