Lebanon’s main Druze leader, Walid Jumblatt, handed his political authority to his son Taymour today, extending the tradition of dynastic politics that plays a big part in the country’s sectarian government.
Jumblatt, the leading politician of the minority Druze community, took off his Palestinian kuffiyeh scarf and placed it on the shoulders of his son at a televised rally in the Moukhtara town in the Chouf mountains.
The move was widely reported in Lebanese media as a symbol of transferring his political leadership.
“Walk forward with your head held high, and carry the legacy of your grandfather,” Jumblatt told his son.
Scores of supporters flocked to the event, which marked the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Walid Jumblatt’s father, Kamal Jumblatt, likely at the hands of the Syrian regime. Walid Jumblatt took on his family’s political leadership after the assassination in the early years of the Lebanese civil war. He was one of the main figures in the country’s 1975-90 conflict.
The Druze, adherents to a small offshoot cult of Islam that emerged in the 11th century, are an important minority in Lebanon’s sectarian system of government. Jumblatt has frequently played kingmaker in Lebanese politics.
He was also a leading figure in the country’s anti-Syrian political coalition. Syria dominated Lebanon’s government and politics for years and had a military presence in Lebanon until 2005, when it withdrew following the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Al-Hariri and months of anti-Syria protests.