Director Ava DuVernay celebrated her decision to wear a gown to the 2017 Oscars by a designer from Lebanon, which she proudly described as “a majority Muslim country.” Lebanon was founded as a Christian “sanctuary” state in the Middle East, and its religious makeup is so controversial the nation has not held a census since 1932.
Although various assessments that use other metrics have determined that Lebanon is a slightly Muslim-majority country, Tom Harb, co-chairman of the Middle East Christian Committee, believes otherwise.
In Lebanon, “Christians are the majority including [Lebanese people] abroad,” Harb told Breitbart News, adding that there has been “no census since 1932.”
“The Muslims in Lebanon refused the Lebanese diaspora to be counted because they count for more than 70 percent of the Christian Population,” he explained.
“A small sign of solidarity. I chose to wear a gown by a designer from a majority Muslim country. Thanks to @AshiStudio of Lebanon. #Oscars,” director Ava DuVernay wrote on Twitter on Sunday, the day of the awards.
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) February 27, 2017
The move to wear a dress from Lebanese brand Ashi Studio was a deliberate snub towards President Donald Trump’s executive order restricting immigration from seven terrorism-linked countries, which she has protested in the past. Lebanon is not among the countries on the list.
Intended as a sanctuary for Christians in the Middle East, Lebanon was established over territory from the crumbling Ottoman Empire.
However, Lebanese Christians are currently being persecuted and facing genocide at the hands of jihadist groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), among others, reported the Gatestone Institute, noting, “Recent upheavals in Lebanon are making local Christians communities worry about their existence as heirs and descendants of the first Christians.”
The CIA World Factbook reports that about 55 percent of Lebanon’s estimated 6.2 million people are Muslims, split down the middle between Sunnis and Shiites, and 40 percent Christian.
“Lebanon is a Muslim-majority country. There hasn’t been an official census since 1932. However, estimates and data from other sources, such as voter registries, indicate that the two Muslim sects — Sunnis and Shiites — are almost equal in size to each other and represent around 60 percent of the population,” Tony Badran, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), told Breitbart News. “All Christian sects combined come to about 35% or so.”
Unlike other governments in the Muslim world, Lebanon’s political system is established under a power-sharing agreement between Shiites, Sunnis, and Christians. However, Badran notes that Iran’s terror proxy Hezbollah “dominates the political order and the institutions of the state, and also maintains a standing army of its own.”
Lebanon’s government system is established under a power-sharing agreement between the major religious groups in the country, including Christians. A Christian is required to serve as president, a Sunni as prime minister, and a Shiite as speaker of parliament. However, more than two years and 45 attempts to appoint a president occurred before the incumbent, the Hezbollah-backed Michel Aoun, came to power late last year.
Muslim politicians in the country have also stripped Christians of some of their political power.
Muslim politicians reportedly want to officially designate Lebanon an Arab Islamic republic and change the constitution so that the country is ruled by Sharia law like many other Muslim countries.
The Gatestone Institute pointed out last year:
Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim politician supported by Saudi Arabia, has invited every Lebanese party to his office to sign a document confirming that Lebanon is an Arab state. This is clearly intended to turn Lebanon into yet another officially Arab Muslim state.
The next step will be to ask that the constitution of Lebanon be changed so that the country be ruled by Sharia law, as with many other Arab and Islamic states.
“When it was first carved out of the crumbling Ottoman empire, Lebanon was intended as a haven for Christians in the Middle East,” reported the Economist in November 2016. “Their numbers have since dwindled after decades of war, emigration and low birth rates.”