The Politics of Sacred Space in Downtown Beirut (1853-2008)
Title: The Politics of Sacred Space in Downtown Beirut (1853-2008)
Author: VLOEBERGHS, Ward
Citation: Myriam ABABSA, Eric DENIS and Baudoin DUPRET (eds), Popular Housing and Urban Land Tenure in the Middle East: Case studies from Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey, Cairo, American University in Cairo Press, 137-168
This chapter provides an overview of different stages in the coming about of the Muhammad al-Amin mosque, completed in 2005. By looking into the complex history of the mosque we document how a selection of actors became, willing or not, associated with what is now Lebanon’s largest congregational mosque, funded almost exclusively by former PM Rafiq Hariri. We argue that a number of physical alterations to the edifice are traces of history that illustrate legal as well as political debates surrounding a construction project that bestowed on the Lebanese capital a major landmark after a surprising trajectory that encompasses a century and a half. This contribution attempts to highlight how, by constant actions and reactions, a highly symbolical place of worship emerged into the skyline of a cosmopolitan metropolis in an ongoing, transformative process of acquiring, claiming and appropriating (sacred) land.
This chapter is an enhanced version of a text previously published as Ward VLOEBERGHS, “The Genesis of a Mosque. Negotiating Sacred Space in Downtown Beirut”, EUI Working Paper RSCAS 2008/17, Florence: European University Institute, 2008.
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