This past Sunday, March 26, Lebanon awoke to two different time zones. By Thursday, the country will be back, yet again, to one time zone.
Here's a quick recap of events that led to one of the more ridiculous blunders of the current political elite:
• Last Thursday, March 23, the secretary general of the cabinet relayed the government’s decision to delay the observation of daylight savings — which was originally scheduled to take place on March 25 — by one month. A video leaked to local television channel Al Jadeed showed caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri discussing the decision.
• By the next day, the unexpected prolongation of winter time had sparked a wave of criticism and mockery both from social media users and political figures, including Free Patriotic Movement leader Gebran Bassil and Forces of Change MP Mark Daou (Aley). Critics admonished the delayed shift to summer time for its perceived sectarian dimensions: “Notice to Christians who are doing Lent until noon: if you are hungry before 12, you can advance the time. Our God is not less good than Berri and Mikati,” said one message circulating on social media. Lebanese carrier Middle East Airlines pushed its flight times and state mobile telecoms operators Alfa and Touch instructed customers to manually adjust their clock settings.
• On Saturday, several media outlets (including L’Orient Today), private institutions and religious leaders announced they would boycott the government’s decision and switch to summer time as previously scheduled. Mikati canceled a government meeting scheduled for Monday, citing the controversy.
• By Sunday night, Caretaker Justice Minister Henri Khoury had dubbed the postponement of the time change “illegal.” Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Joumblatt, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and a new statement from Bassil added further criticism to the postponed time change. Meanwhile, technical difficulties surrounding the new timing started to become apparent. Videos showed digital clocks at the Beirut international airport displaying conflicting times. Mikati called for a government meeting on Monday to deal with the controversy.
• Following Monday’s cabinet meeting, Caretaker Prime Minister Najib rescinded the controversial decision and announced daylight savings time would take effect at midnight on Wednesday. Mikati issued a statement claiming the initial prolongation of winter time was the result of “intensive meetings over a period of months, with the participation of ministers and stakeholders.” He said he “did not make a confessional or sectarian decision,” adding that he had hoped to alleviate the fast observed by Muslims during Ramadan “without causing any harm to any other Lebanese component.” The same day, Middle East Airlines announced it had readjusted flight schedules to daylight savings time from midnight on the night of March 29 to 30, 2023.
This past Sunday, March 26, Lebanon awoke to two different time zones. By Thursday, the country will be back, yet again, to one time zone. What happened? Here's a quick recap of events that led to one of the more ridiculous blunders of the current political elite: • Last Thursday, March 23, the secretary general of the cabinet relayed the government’s decision to delay the...