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Controversy in Lebanon due to a government decision to postpone summer time


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The Lebanese Council of Ministers decided, according to what was announced Thursday, March 23, 2023, to “exceptionally” extend winter time until the night of April 20-21, 2023.

Activists on social media circulated a video showing a dialogue between Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati about extending winter time beyond Ramadan, the month of fasting for Muslims.

The government’s decision resulted in confusion among several institutions.

And Middle East Airlines announced, “Presenting the departure times for all flights departing from Rafic Hariri International Airport by one hour,” after it had issued its travel cards according to the World Summer Time timings.

The companies “Alfa” and “MTC” for communications asked subscribers to manually set the clock settings on their cell phones to avoid changing the time as programmed according to daylight saving time.

Several institutions announced their non-compliance with the decision, such as television stations, including the “MTV” channel and the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation International (LBC), which indicated that non-compliance with the global clock “will affect our business.”

“If the state took its decision months ago and not 48 hours ago, there would be no problem,” Pierre Daher, chairman of the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, told AFP. He added, “The worst thing is that the decision to adhere to summer time or not was taken on sectarian grounds.”

The Maronite Patriarchate announced that it would not implement the decision, and that it would adhere to Universal Daylight Savings Time.

In a statement, her media office criticized the decision-making “without consultation with the rest of the Lebanese components, and without any regard for international standards, and for the confusion and damage at home and abroad.”

Lawyer Walid Ghayyad, media advisor to the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch and All the East, Cardinal Bechara Al-Rai, told AFP that the Patriarchate’s decision is “a position so as not to increase Lebanon’s isolation.”

He added, “Such a decision should be reported a year ago, because it causes harm to people, and it should not be taken over a cup of coffee.”

Both the Free Patriotic Movement and the Lebanese Forces party, the most prominent Christian party, objected to the decision.

The Public School, which is affiliated with the Jesuit parents, also announced that it would not comply with the government decision.

Commentators on social media mocked the exaggerated reaction and its sectarian turn, considering it unjustified, especially in a country exhausted by crises, and witnessing an economic collapse that has made 80 percent of its population below the poverty line.

One of them wrote, “Apart from the insignificance of the summer time decision, we see an exaggerated reaction and an excuse for sectarian vomiting.”

Another mocked, saying, “Do you see that tomorrow when our children study history (they will find) that the civil war broke out in Lebanon in 2023 because the clock was not brought forward?”

Commentators also considered that the decision will not change anything in the life of the fasting person during the month of Ramadan, since the number of hours of fasting will not change.

And one of them wrote in a tweet, “The idea is to break your fast early, knowing that you do not have (money) to break your fast with.”

Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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