Islam in Lebanon

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There are five Muslim sects in Lebanon: Sunnis, Shiis, Druze, Alawis, and Ismailis. All but Ismailis enjoy proportional representation in parliament. About one-fifth of the Lebanese population is Sunni, concentrated in coastal cities. Shiis live mostly in the north and south; they generally hold lower social, economic, and educational status than Sunnis. By the 1980s Shiis constituted the largest confessional group in Lebanon, leading to demands for better educational and employment opportunities and redistribution of power based on actual numbers. Druze constitute about 7 percent of the population. Alawis are numerically insignificant but have risen in importance since the Gulf War of 1990–91 due to the growing influence of Syria, where Alawis dominate the government. Ismailis number only a few hundred and play no significant political role. Religious officials of each sect maintain jurisdiction over personal status law. The distribution of political power is based on religious affiliation: the president must be Maronite Christian, the prime minister must be Sunni Muslim, and the speaker of the parliament must be Shii Muslim.

Subjects: Islam.

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