Women in Lebanon: Living with Christianity, Islam, and by Marie-Claude Thomas (auth.)

By Marie-Claude Thomas (auth.)

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The Melkite Catholics divide themselves into two autonomous groups; one group is attached to the Phanar and is known as “Orthodox,” while the other is faithful to Rome, which has essentially monopolized the Melkite rite15 since the eighteenth century. After traveling from Houran or Syria, they settled across the southern and eastern parts of the mountains, and most notably in the rural parts of Saida, Tyre, and Zahle. Drawn by the same need for subsistence as the Maronites and in the same century, the Melkites made their way to Saghbine.

In Selim Abou’s study on Lebanese bilingual people in his book Le bilinguisme arabe-français au Liban,7 the education of women was a luxury in the 1960s and 1970s. Many families often stopped the schooling of their girls after primary school, assuming that this level of education was sufficient for the life of a woman. This is no longer the case, for many women continue to earn college degrees, and the prejudices described by Selim Abou have diminished tremendously. Even today, education conceals a cultural and societal reality that a young woman can question only with difficulty.

Religious spaces in the villages consist of churches, the qontoche, or rectory, cemeteries, and chapels. In Saghbine, two churches belong to the Maronites: Saint George, the older of the two churches, is three centuries old. Its Geography and Religious Spaces ● 21 antiquity is marked by its two entrance doors: one for men and one for women, who, until the latter half of the twentieth century, were required to sit at the back of the church. As villagers pass the church, they often stop to kiss the blessed stones on the side of the church—a ritual that often leaves red lipstick marks on the church’s walls.

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