ABOUT

About The Foundation for Forgiveness & Reconciliation in Lebanon…

It is a choice that can enable healing and restoration. Our curriculum explores forgiveness as a mechanism for violence prevention and conflict resolution.

The Foundation for Forgiveness and Reconciliation in Lebanon (FFRL) believes in identifying all people through a common humanity, seeking to break down dehumanising perceptions resulting from sectarian division and enabling a path towards social reconciliation through the lens of forgiveness. We work primarily with the emerging generation in Lebanon to overcome cycles of hostility and restore common ground between communities, equipping the next generation with mechanisms for nonviolent conflict resolution as they take up their various roles and responsibilities in society.

We work with youth and young adults from various communities in Lebanon, providing education in nonviolent conflict resolution through our Forgiveness Journey curriculum. This involves developing an understanding of the spectrum of forgiveness, from a space of basic coexistence to the potential of complete reconciliation, whilst always acknowledging the journey is unique and dynamic for each individual.

Our projects have included groups from Lebanese, Palestinian, Syrian and Iraqi communities of various religious backgrounds. Restoring relationships between host and displaced communities as well as Lebanon’s own array of diverse socio-religious communities. Intergroup engagement is core to our work, bringing historically opposed groups together in order to nurture the aspects of reconciliation they have learned from the Forgiveness Journey in a real world setting.

Our forgiveness based approach to peacebuilding is founded in the research of the International Forgiveness Institute (www.internationalforgiveness.com) and developed accordingly within the context of Lebanon.

Historical Background

Socio‐religious communities are a primary source of identity for Lebanese citizens and the critical point of much conflict throughout Lebanon’s history. Sectarian hostilities between Christians, Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims and Druze have long been a defining factor in the religious, social and political climate of the country. After the Israeli‐Palestinian conflict began, tensions began to take their toll in Lebanon with the increasing amount of Palestinian refugees and the eventual arrival of the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization), and in 1975 civil war broke out, causing great bloodshed on all sides, eventually ending in 1989 with the signing of the Taif accord. Unfortunately, even after the war had ended, many of these tensions and divisions remained. Syria had a military presence in Lebanon for decades and Israel still occupied much of the south. There was no official means of acknowledgement or resolution to the causes of conflict; Lebanon remained unstable and at the mercy and influence of neighbouring nations.

In addition to this, the recent and ongoing influx of Syrian refugees has only added to the nation’s instability, with an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees now seeking refuge in Lebanon. Furthermore, Palestinian refugees still make up another 450,000, this equates to a ratio of one in four being a refugee in Lebanon, the highest anywhere in the world.

In the past Lebanon has been considered one of the most stable countries in The Middle‐East, with it’s peaceful inter-religious relations proving an example to others. Today there is still potential for it to rise up as a nation of tolerance and diversity in the region, but only if these issues of identity are first addressed and the dividing walls of hostility broken down, only then may there be a decrease in the persistence of sectarian conflict and a sustainable path to peace established.