Lebanon Wakes Up to Confusion Over Clocks

Nation can't agree on when to change the clocks
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 26, 2023 6:40 AM CDT
In Lebanon Sunday, It's Unclear What Time It Is
   (Getty / Zephyr18)

The changing of the clocks always leads to lots of grumbling in the US. But in Lebanon, the dispute has reached another level. Much of the nation set their clocks back one hour for Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, following the usual protocol of doing so on the last Sunday in March, reports the BBC. However, another large swath of the country won't set their clocks back until April 20, following a last-minute decree by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati. The result? Lots of confusion, per CNN. The issue "throws travel plans, zoom calls and automatic phone times updates into utter disarray," tweeted journalist Kim Ghattas.

The dispute has religious context, notes Reuters. Though Mikati did not announce the reason for his Thursday decree to postpone the time change by a month, it is widely believed to be an attempt to score favor with Muslims. The holy month of Ramadan began on March 22, and postponing DST would allow Muslims to break their fast one hour earlier when Ramadan ends. However, the nation's influential Christian Maronite Church said it would it ignore the "surprising" decision. Two major Lebanese news channels, LBCI and MTV, said they would also ignore the move.

One tangible example of the split: Middle East Airlines, the national carrier, changed its flight times as per usual so as not to confuse international schedules, but its own clocks will remain on winter time in keeping with the prime minister's decree. A question overheard by a Reuters journalist at a cafe on Saturday illustrates the confusion for everyday residents: "Will you follow the Christian or Muslim clock starting tomorrow?" (More Lebanon stories.)

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