New political movement gives voters an alternative
‘Hayyabina’ aims to put an end to sectarianism

By Raed El Rafei , Special to The Daily Star

BEIRUT: A new political movement announced here Monday is aiming to offer voters an original alternative when casting their ballots during parliamentary elections slated for later this month. For voters who wish to make a statement this election, instead of abstaining from voting or submitting a blank ballot they will now be able to cast a ballot detailing a political program rather than a list of candidates.

Behind the initiative is Hayyabina, a small group of independent individuals rallied under the slogan “Let’s go for a secular republic.”

During a press conference held Monday at Zico House in central Beirut, the members of Hayyabina expressed their belief in the right of all citizens to participate in the public arena outside the boundaries imposed by current political parties.

The group’s mission statement is to make heard the voices of those who do not adhere to “the assumption that citizens can be represented on the basis of confession alone.”

In this context, Loukman Salim, a publisher and one of the founders of Hayyabina, rejected all present “entrenched political elites,” insisting “leaders of the opposition who continue to uphold the confessional structure are just as guilty … as the Syrian loyalists.”

Hayyabina has summarized its political program on a small mock-ballot, hoping voters who do not wish to support any candidates during the coming parliamentary elections will instead drop this cut-out into the ballot box.

Of course, the mock-ballot will not be counted as a vote. But, according to group member Fadi Touffic, “submitting the program of Hayyabina as a vote will be an active way for people to express their rejection of today’s dominant retrograde confessional politics.”

Hayyabina’s program calls for public referendums to reflect popular opinion and objectives. It also stresses the necessity to amend the Constitution and national laws to bring them more into line with the expectations of the citizenry.

The group also believes “all provisions that conflict with the principles of civil liberties and human rights should be removed.”

Hayyabina demands that Lebanon’s foreign policies be established “on the basis of higher common national interests as opposed to regional identity, kinship or religious associations.” It also urges the state to collaborate with civil society in order to restore its power over education, family law, social welfare, economy and the environment.

In addition, the program insists on holding politicians accountable for their complicity with, support for and benefit from, the Lebanese-Syrian security regime.

Whereas Loukman welcomed the liberation of Lebanon from Syrian tutelage, he also called for “elucidating the role of the Lebanese in state corruption.”

Hayyabina members refuse to present their candidacy to the elections because “the current electorate law obliges them to run on the basis of confession.”

Alternatively, Hayyabina plans to send their program to all party candidates and endorse those who adopt it publicly and entirely. For more information, go to