Lebanon's Damned Inheritance

Michael Houses looks at the grievances and history of the troubled Middle East country.

Grand Serail, Beruit, at the turn of the 20th century. Grand serail booklet (Trawi, Ayman, 2002). Author unknown.Terrain dominated history. Nowhere is this truer than in the Lebanon. It is the only Arab state without desert, a beautiful land of dramatic mountain ranges sheltering hidden valleys, green and fertile. The people have all the characteristics of isolated mountain clans: intense pride, fierce love of liberty and powerful tribal solidarity. These secure mountain fastnesses have, over the centuries, attracted unorthodox, heretical and schismatic sects. Maronite Christians and Shi'ite Moslems came to escape persecution. Christian anchorites sought seclusion. Druze ascetics had been branded heretics by orthodox Islam.

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