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When No One Knows What Time It Is

The Lebanese people had a rough start to their week when a decision made by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in accordance with the Speaker of Parliament Nabih Berri caused a great confusion in the country and reignited the divisions between Muslims and Christians. This decision was to halt the change to daylight savings time.

The decision of the Lebanese caretaker government to delay work in respect to the daylight savings time until after the month of Ramadan sparked a great deal of controversy in Lebanon, with several institutions announcing their refusal to commit to it. Christian political parties and the Maronite Patriarchate also announced their rejection of the decision, which came to light after a severe economic crisis and political division that prevented the election of a new president for the republic.

The decision took a sectarian turn, and sparked sarcastic comments on social media. It all started when a video recording of Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri asking caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to delay work in the Universal Daylight Savings Time in consideration of those fasting during the month of Ramadan spread everywhere.

The decision caused some confusion, as it affected the telecommunications and aviation sectors. It forced multiple flights, mainly those of Lebanon’s national carrier “Middle East Airlines”, to change the hours back to winter time after being logically set to summer time. The airlines had to send mails to the passengers explaining the time change and modifying the necessary details. The telecommunications companies "Alfa" and "MTC Touch" also asked their users to themselves change the time setting on their phones to the time zone they wish to follow.

Several institutions announced that they won’t be complying, such as television stations like "MTV Lebanon" and the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBCI) as well as the Catholic schools affiliated with the Maronite Patriarchate. The country’s own Education minister has announced that his Ministry will not comply seeing the confusion that all of this has created and has asked schools to do the same. He then changed his mind in another statement released not too long after the first one giving the schools absolute liberty to choose the time they want to.

And the first to work with two different times will be the Central Bank of Lebanon, as it will deal with the international time as it is, because this will affect its dealings, but the attendance and departure of employees will be at the government’s time, according to local media.

Confusion aside, this decision caused a dangerous sectarian divide pitting Muslims and Christians against each other. The first speculated reason for this decision was to ease the fasting of the Muslims who are observing their holy month of Ramadan during this time, with the decision that they will fast for an hour less, breaking this fast at 6PM winter time than 7PM summer time. Although these are baseless and false statements, they still fueled hate. The fasting hours will not change at all; they will stay for 14 hours during both cases, as Muslims don’t follow the hour for their fasting. They follow the sun and its positioning, and, obviously the sun will not start going down an hour late during this time, the only change witnessed in those fasting hours will be that instead of fasting from around 4AM to around 6PM, it will be from around 5AM to around 7PM.

 It is necessary to point out that this was all a scapegoat used to cover either an enormous and illegal economic operation that would benefit the corrupt politicians, while others say it was to cover up a failure and a scandal.

Finally, Monday, Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced the start of daylight savings time and moved the clock forward by 60 minutes after 48 hours of the meeting of the Council of Ministers. In that meeting he was heavily put under pressure by all Ministers who never really had a say in this matter, and this move was heavily illegal and unconstitutional.

Edited by : Ritaja Kar






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