For many years, the Shi‘ite community in Lebanon was a deprived one. During the Ottoman rule, the Shi‘ites tended to keep away from politics and were usually not among the ruling elite. The process of modernization that the Arab Middle East had witnessed in the nineteenth century, influenced by European countries, passed the Shi‘ites by. The gap between them and other religious communities—the Maronite Christians, the Druze, and the Sunni Muslims—in what later became modern Lebanon grew as a result. The Maronites enjoyed France’s patronage, the Greek Orthodox were considered to be under Russia’s, the British supported the Druze, and the Sunnis enjoyed the protection of the Ottoman Empire. The Shi‘ites lacked an external patron to fight for their interests and lessen their deprivation. This was the time when Mount Lebanon and the city of Beirut had become centers of political, cultural and economic activity. The Shi‘ites, who were geographically concentrated on the periphery of both South Lebanon (Jabal-‘Amil) and the Lebanon Valley (The Biqa‘), away from the center of political and economic activity in Mount Lebanon and Beirut, were left outside the centers of power and influence.
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© 2011 Omri Nir
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Nir, O. (2011). Introduction. In: Nabih Berri and Lebanese Politics. The Middle East In Focus. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230117631_1
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