Sunni Islam in Lebanon
|Islam (Sunni Islam)|
Sunni Islam in Lebanon has a history of more than a millennium. According to CIA study, Sunni Muslims have followers who constitutes 27% of Lebanon's population of approximately 4.3 million, which means they amount to 1,160,000. Sunnis are concentrated in west Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon and in the countryside of the Akkar. Under the terms of an unwritten agreement known as the National Pact between the various political and religious leaders of Lebanon, Sunni notables traditionally held power in the Lebanese state together, and they are still the only sect eligible for the post of Prime Minister.
The cultural and linguistic heritage of the Lebanese people is a blend of both indigenous Phoenician elements and the foreign cultures that have come to rule the land and its people over the course of thousands of years. In a 2013 interview the lead investigator, Pierre Zalloua, pointed out that genetic variation preceded religious variation and divisions:"Lebanon already had well-differentiated communities with their own genetic peculiarities, but not significant differences, and religions came as layers of paint on top. There is no distinct pattern that shows that one community carries significantly more Phoenician than another."
Genealogical DNA testing has shown that 24.8% of Lebanese Muslims (non-Druze) belong to the Y-DNA haplogroup J1. Although there is common ancestral roots, these studies show some difference was found between Muslims and non-Muslims in Lebanon, of whom only 17.1% have this haplotype. As haplogroup J1 finds its putative origins in the Arabian peninsula, this likely means that the lineage was introduced by Arabs beginning at the time of the 7th century Muslim conquest of the Levant and has persisted among the Muslim population ever since. On the other hand, only 4.7% of all Lebanese Muslims belong to haplogroup R1b, compared to 9.6% of Lebanese Christians. Modern Muslims in Lebanon thus do not seem to have a significant genetic influence from the Crusaders, who probably introduced this common Western Europen marker to the extant Christian populations of the Levant when they were active in the region from 1096 until around the turn of the 14th century. Haplogroup J2 is also a significant marker in throughout Lebanon (29%). This marker found in many inhabitants of Lebanon, regardless of religion, signals pre-Arab descendants, including the Phoenicians. These genetic studies show us there is no significant differences between the Muslims and non-Muslims of Lebanon.
With Saudi Arabia
The Sunnis of Lebanon have close ties with Saudi Arabia, which supports them financially. Moreover, Tripoli, the stronghold of the Lebanese Sunnis, is also the birthplace of Lebanon's Salafi Movement, a puritanical Sunni movement from Saudi Arabia.
With Lebanese Alawites and Syria
The Lebanese Sunni Muslims initially opposed the creation of the Lebanese state separated from Syria, where the majority of the population was also Sunni Muslim, and wanted the territory of present day Lebanon to be incorporated within the so-called Greater Syria.
Sunni Muslims and Alawites have been in conflict with each other for centuries. The Alawites of the Levant were oppressed by the Sunni Ottoman Empire, but gained power and influence when the French recruited Alawites as soldiers during the French mandate of Syria. After independence from France, their co-religionists the Assad family came to power in Syria in 1970.
Over the years, there have been numerous clashes between the Sunni and Alawi communities in Tripoli, particularly over the past 14 months since Syria’s uprising began, as part of the Arab Spring that started in Tunisia. The deadliest exchange took place last June, when seven people were killed and more than 60 wounded, after Sunni Muslims staged a protest against the Assad regime.
At the best of times, the Alawites are regarded by Sunnis as heretics; at times of tension, when thousands of Sunnis in Syria are being killed, they are regarded as the enemy. And when a popular Salafist figure is strangely abducted and arrested by Lebanon’s General Security Service – an organization linked to the Shia Hezbollah militia that, in turn, is linked to the Assad regime – the Alawites become the whipping boys.
Geographic distribution within Lebanon
Lebanese Sunni Muslims are concentrated in west Beirut, Tripoli, Sidon and in the countryside of the Akkar district, located in Northern Lebanon, and Northeastern Beqaa Valley mainly around the city of Arsal.
The last census in Lebanon in 1932 put the numbers of Sunnis at 22% of the population (178,100 of 791,700). A study done by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in 1985 put the numbers of Sunnis at 27% of the population (595,000 of 2,228,000).
- Emir Khaled Chehab, former Prime Minister of Lebanon and Speaker of the Parliament of Lebanon.
- Riad Al Solh, the first Prime Minister of Lebanon (1943–1945), after the country's independence
- Rafik Hariri, assassinated former Prime Minister of Lebanon
- Saad Hariri, former Prime Minister of Lebanon
- Fouad Siniora, former Prime Minister of Lebanon
- Abdul Hamid Karami, former Prime Minister of Lebanon
- Omar Karami, former Prime Minister of Lebanon
- Rashid Karami, former Prime Minister of Lebanon
- Najib Mikati, former Prime Minister of Lebanon
- Saeb Salam, politician, who served as Prime Minister six times between 1952 and 1973
- Tammam Salam, politician and current Prime Minister of Lebanon
- Walid Toufic, singer
- Al-Waleed bin Talal, Saudi-Lebanese businessman and grandson of Riad Al Solh, Lebanon's first Prime Minister
- Marwa, singer
- Suzanne Tamim, the late singer
- Fadl Shaker, singer
- Hassan Khaled, late former leader of Lebanon's Sunni Muslim community
- Wissam al-Hassan, assassinated brigadier general at the Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF)
- Mohamad Chatah, assassinated Lebanese economist and diplomat
- Ahmed Assir, Sunni activist and former Imam of the Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque in Sidon
- Ali Al Hajj, former major general and director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces
- Ashraf Rifi, former major general and director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces and current minister of justice
- Amal Clooney, a London-based British-Lebanese lawyer, activist, and author. (Sunni mother and Druze father.)
- Religion in Lebanon
- Shia Islam in Lebanon
- Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Lebanon
- Maronite Christianity in Lebanon
- Melkite Christianity in Lebanon
- Druze in Lebanon
- Bab al-Tabbaneh–Jabal Mohsen conflict
- Syrian Civil War spillover in Lebanon
- Future Movement
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But the coup of 1970, which brought an Alawi air force officer, Hafez Assad, to power, was what finally ended the instability that had reigned in Syria since the advent of independence.
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