Lebanon has woken up in two time zones amid an escalating dispute between political and religious authorities over the government’s decision to postpone winter clock changes till after Islam’s holy month of fasting, Ramadan, is over.
Rising tensions, which reflected fragile ties between Lebanon’s social components, had forced caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to cancel a cabinet session.
Mikati issued the decision on Thursday to delay entering daylight savings time till April 20, instead of rolling the clocks forward an hour on the last weekend of March.
Christian political forces rejected the government’s decision and circulated audio clips and data confirming that their regions across Lebanon will adhere to universal timing and not wait until after Ramadan.
The General Secretariat of the Kataeb Party, a Christian political party in Lebanon, released a statement demanding all workers in its central to attend work according to the universal time.
“All caucuses will be held on schedule, according to the universal daylight savings time,” said the Kataeb.
Businesses and media organizations, including two of Lebanon’s main news channels LBCI and MTV, announced they too would enter daylight savings on Saturday night as calls for disobedience gained steam.
On Saturday, the influential Maronite Church said it would disregard the decision and would set its clocks forward on Saturday night.
Mikati, for his part, refused to give any sectarian character to his decision and insisted that it was just an “administrative” measure.
“Some want to divert attention from their obstruction of the presidential election process by targeting the government,” claimed Mikati.
“We are witnessing an attempt to drag the country into a sectarian division to fuel conflicts, and to give a purely administrative procedure an abhorrent sectarian turn,” said Mikati in defense of his decision.