The caretaker prime minister announced that the change to daylight saving time would take place in Lebanon on April 20, instead of the last weekend in March, but the Maronite church said yesterday that it would not obey the decision
Lebanon woke up to two different hours today, as a standoff between politicians and religious authorities escalated over the decision to keep winter time for another month.
The caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati announced on Thursday that the change to daylight saving time will take place in Lebanon on April 20, instead of the last weekend of March, as has usually been the case both in the country and in Europe and other regions.
Although he did not give a reason for his decision, it was seen by some as an attempt to win over Muslims by allowing those fasting for Ramadan to break their fast an hour earlier, around 6pm instead of 7pm.
But the Maronite Church of Lebanon, which has great influence in the country, announced on Saturday that it would not obey Mikati’s decision, calling it “surprising” and pointing out that there was no prior discussion with other actors in the country and international standards were not taken into account. .
The church announced that the change to daylight saving time would take place at dawn today, followed by other Christian organizations, parties and schools.
In the meantime, Muslim parties and institutions maintain winter time.
Businesses and media organizations, including Lebanon’s two largest television networks, LBCI and MTV, announced they would switch to daylight saving time early today, as calls for Mikati’s order to be ignored grew.
LBCI said in a statement that it will go ahead with the DST change as usual mainly because its business would suffer if it did not. He even added: “Lebanon is not an island.”
Others have tried to adapt: the country’s national carrier, Middle East Airlines, has indicated that its clocks will remain on winter time but will change its flight times to summer time to coordinate with international schedules.
“Muslim or Christian time?”
Mikati, a Sunni, announced his decision to extend daylight saving time by a month after a meeting on Thursday with parliament speaker Nabih Berri, a Shiite.
In a statement yesterday, the Lebanese prime minister’s office explained that the decision is “a purely administrative matter”, which took “a heinous doctrinal turn”.
At a cafe in Beirut last night a Reuters reporter heard a customer ask: “Are you going to follow Christian or Muslim time from tomorrow?”
Independent MP Wadah Sadek commented on Twitter that decisions are being made “without any thought to the impact or confusion they cause”.
Besides, some Twitter users posted an old interview of the well-known Lebanese composer and musician Ziad Rabbani, who talks about daylight saving time: “Every year you move the clock forward one hour and you hold us back 10 years,” he says, referring to Lebanese politicians.
“You should pay attention to the years, not just the time.”
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