Lebanon's Emerging Civil Society

Lebanon is a nation in transition. Wracked by civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, then dominated by Syria from 1990 to 2005, this diverse country of 3.8 million people is seeking to remake its political system. It won't be easy. The assassination of former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri in February 2005 led to the ending of Syria's domination of the country and brought a mandate for democracy. But it also stoked tensions among the country's Muslim and Christian populations. A new round of elections in 2005 brought in an anti-Syrian majority determined to secure a more democratic system. The first order of business for this new parliament is to rewrite the country's electoral law. On Nov. 21, 2006, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, a hard-line advocate for the country's Maronite Christian population, was gunned down in Beirut. His assassination pushes the country's government a step closer to collapse. Transcript: The Post's Anthony Shadid - Foreign correspondent responded to readers' questions on Lebanon's political transition.

Related Headlines -The latest news on Lebanese politics and the Hariri assassination probe.

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Lebanon is inhabited by approximately 3.8 million people in an area roughly the size of Connecticut. Its intermingling of Muslims and Christians make it a kind of microcosm of the encounter between the West and East.
Lebanon has a sectarian political system and powerful neighbors. The combination has made the country an unstable and often dangerous place over the last 30 years.
Lebanon has one of the most diverse English-language online media of any Middle Eastern country.

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