Already in 1959, Raymond Eddé, then Minister of the Interior in the Rachid Karamé government, considered on February 22 a law allowing civil marriage, together with religious marriage, to be necessary. It was therefore a question, according to the minister, of allowing a compulsory civil marriage for all, then, if the couples wished it, an optional religious marriage but which however would then impose the personal statute of their communities with their advantages and their disadvantages. Raya el Hassan, the previous Minister of the Interior had relaunched the debate, 60 years after her illustrious predecessor, but had to back down following the negative reactions of the heads of religious communities and in particular that of the Sunni community to which she belongs, to know Dar el Fatwa. The debate we are witnessing in Lebanon is therefore not new and these measures were widely discussed during the debates held following the events that began in October but somewhat forgotten by our politicians today. They are more concerned with maintaining an economic system than reforming public or even social institutions. This debate that took place in the street is therefore necessary. Just like Raymond Eddé, Raya el Hassan will therefore fail and it even seems that today, we ignore this subject, even if it becomes recurrent. A debate that began almost at the creation of Greater Lebanon The League of Nations had in fact entrusted France with the task of bringing Lebanon and Syria to a sufficient degree of development and self-administration in order to enable them to gain independence. In 1920, Greater Lebanon will be proclaimed . In 1924, High Commissioner Maxime Weygand had proposed the establishment of a single personal status for everyone of Lebanese nationality. This had provoked the opposition of all the religious authorities. In April 1926, Henry de Jouvenel, who had succeeded Maxime Weygand as now civil authority instead of the military, had decided to transfer the files relating to disputes about personal status to civil courts except those relating to marriages. Then it will consider unifying the civil personal status with that relating to Civil Marriage. This proposal will be the object of a hard opposition of the religious authorities that they are Christian or Moslem. As soon as he arrived in 1926, Henri Ponsot, appointed High Commissioner in charge of the Mandate for what was then called Greater Lebanon, wanted to put in place a system governing the different religious communities. According to Henri Ponsot, In this spirit, it was necessary “to develop an organic statute for Syria and Lebanon in agreement with “the native authorities” and to promote local autonomy. In fact, the authorities of the Mandate will not impose the status of Civil Marriage without the agreement of the Lebanese or Syrian authorities of the time. Count Damien de Martel. image source Wikipedia.com It is to his successor Damien de Martel to replace Henri Ponsot sent to Syria and Lebanon to occupy the post of High Commissioner of France to the Levant that he will be responsible for tackling this task by proposing the decree known as 60 of March 13, 1936, which confers legal personality on Christian and Muslim communities allowing them to legislate on questions of personal status and to possess religious tribunals. While conferring a denominational character on personal status, Damien de Martel inserts in Order 60, the recognition of a so-called common law community, ie an exemption for people who do not wish to belong to any community. It would then be up to the State to organize this civil community in the various aspects, including that of Marriage. Faced with Order 60, the Muslim community will be the source of serious unrest, considering that it grants Christian and Muslim communities the same status on an equal footing and authorizes conversion between religions and also a secular status. The Mufti of the Republic, Toufic Khaled will speak directly to Damien de Martel to inform him of his refusal to see such provisions applied. It is then that sectarian tensions will also arise. The Syrian authorities then linked to Lebanon will also express their opposition to this project. At the same time that the so-called Sahel Congress will be organized by Muslim notables who will demand an "equitable sharing of civil servants between religious communities", which will give Lebanese public administrations a confessional character. On the eve of the 2nd World War, his successor, the High Commissioner Puaux, in search of social calm, will sign decree 53 of March 30, 1939 which will grant an exemption for the Muslim community thus also burying the principle of equality between Lebanese communities. From then on, at each mention of personal status reforms by the state, as in 1943 during the independence of Lebanon, in 1951 during the recognition of the Christian community, in the 1960s with the creation of a status for Muslim communities and again in the years 1998, the debate on civil marriage will come up against opposition mainly because of the Muslim religious authorities. Elias Hraoui's attempt to impose a civil marriage Former President of the Republic Elias Hraoui. Photo Source Wikipedia In 1998, the President of the Lebanese Republic at the time, Elias Hraoui, presented to the Council of Ministers a bill reforming the optional personal status and allowing a civil union ranging from engagement to succession, including marriage. , child custody and alimony. This project will be adopted by the Council of Ministers by 21 votes for, 6 against and 1 abstention. Prime Minister Rafic Hariri who was also opposed to this project had already consulted Deir el Fatwa, the superior Sunni authority to justify his refusal to affix his signature so that this project is not presented to Parliament. In the end, the personal status reform project will end up being buried.