BEIRUT — Schools in Lebanon have shifted to daylight saving time, caretaker Education Minister Abbas Halabi said in a statement Sunday.
Halabi's statement contradicts caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati's decision to postpone daylight saving time for a month — a decision that sparked criticism from both Lebanon's residents and members of its political class.
Halabi justified schools sticking with daylight saving time by saying, “If the cabinet convenes and takes a decision amending its previous decision related to daylight saving time, we will be the first to apply it. In the absence of such a decision, daylight saving time remains approved and applied in the educational sector.”
On Saturday, caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury also voiced opposition to the premier's determination on daylight saving time, saying that this "decision is contrary to the cabinet decision issued on Aug. 20, 1998, and is therefore issued by an invalid authority and is illegal.”
Halabi, for his part, added, “The globe rotates and the day and night shift accordingly in every country in the world, and the times of prayer, fasting and festivals change according to the sunrise and sunset in any part of the earth.”
The decision to postpone daylight savings time in Lebanon took many by surprise and was adopted almost unilaterally, following a discussion between Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri.
The Grand Serail announced Thursday that the change to daylight saving time, scheduled for midnight March 25/26, would be postponed until the end of April.
Several media outlets, archdioceses and schools said Saturday that they will not abide by the decision to postpone the transition to daylight saving time. Some media outlets said in a statement that they decided to go ahead with the time change "to protest the decision of the [caretaker] prime minister."
Meanwhile, some view Mikati's decision as confessional, saying that it was made in consideration of the impact it would have on the country's Muslim population during the month of Ramadan when many members of the faith fast from sunrise to sunset. Others consider that Mikati's and Berri's decision is an attempt to distract public commentary from the current crises in Lebanon.