Lebanese nationalism

Map of Phoenicia.
Map of Phoenicia and its Mediterranean trade routes.

Lebanese nationalism is a nationalistic ideology that considers the Lebanese people are a distinct nation independent from the Arab nation. It considers the Lebanese people to be direct descendants of the Phoenician people. Supporters of this theory of Lebanese ethnogenesis maintain that the Lebanese are descended from Phoenicians and are not pure Arabs, rather Lebanese are seen to be a mixed people of Arab and Phoenician descent.

This ideology has its roots in the 19th century sectarian wars in Mount Lebanon between the Maronites and Druze. It took its formalized form during the inter-war period and the French Mandate of Syria, when it served primarily as a tool in opposing Arab nationalism and in justifying the existence of the nascent country of Lebanon.

During the 20th century and the Lebanese Civil War, Lebanese nationalism was associated with the Kataeb Party, Lebanese Forces, National Liberal Party and secularist movements like Guardians of the Cedars and the Lebanese Renewal Party, spearheaded by the renowned late Lebanese poet and philosopher Said Akl.

The Lebanese nationalism goes even further and incorporates irredentist views going beyond the Lebanese borders, seeking to unify all the lands of ancient Phoenicia around present day Lebanon.[1] This comes from the fact that present day Lebanon, the Mediterranean coast of Syria, and northern Israel is the area that roughly corresponds to ancient Phoenicia and as a result the majority of the Lebanese people identify with the ancient Phoenician population of that region.[2] Therefore, the proposed Greater Lebanese country includes Lebanon, Mediterranean coast of Syria, and northern Israel.

The cultural and linguistic heritage of the Lebanese people is a blend of both indigenous elements and the foreign cultures that have come to rule the land and its people over the course of thousands of years. In a 2013 interview the lead investigator, Pierre Zalloua, pointed out that genetic variation preceded religious variation and divisions:" Lebanon already had well-differentiated communities with their own genetic peculiarities, but not significant differences, and religions came as layers of paint on top. There is no distinct pattern that shows that one community carries significantly more Phoenician than another."[3]

See also


  1. Reviving Phoenicia: The Search for Identity in Lebanon By Asher Kaufman
  2. Kamal S. Salibi, "The Lebanese Identity" Journal of Contemporary History 6.1, Nationalism and Separatism (1971:76-86).
  3. Maroon, Habib (31 March 2013). "A geneticist with a unifying message". Nature. Retrieved 3 October 2013.
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