Taymur Jumblatt becomes leader of Lebanon's Druze community


Taymur Jumblatt, 35, on Sunday took over from his father Walid as leader of Lebanon's small but influential Druze community and heir to one of the country's political dynasties.

Walid Jumblatt, 67, passed on the torch to his son by placing a traditional keffiyeh scarf on his shoulders during a ceremony in the Druze heartland village of Mukhtara in the Chouf mountains, southeast of Beirut.

"Oh Taymur, carry the heritage of your grandfather, the great Kamal Jumblatt," Walid told his son, on the 40th anniversary of the murder of his father. Kamal Jumblatt was killed in 1977 after opposing the entry of Syrian troops into Lebanon the previous year. His own father had also been assassinated.

"Carry high the keffiyeh of occupied Arab Palestine, the keffiyeh of progressive Lebanon, of the free men and the revolutionaries, of those who resist Israel wherever they are, of reconciliation and dialogue, the keffiyeh of modesty and generosity, the keffiyeh of Mukhtara," Walid Jumblatt said.

Walid Jumblatt followed in his father's footsteps in 1977, just two years into Lebanon's 15-year civil war. His armed supporters fought fierce battles with Christians in the Chouf during the war.

After decades of on-off support for Damascus, Walid Jumblatt in 2005 led a wave of mass protests that resulted in the pullout of Syrian troops from Lebanon after 29 years in the country.

Taymur Jumblatt takes up the mantle as head of a community that follows a secretive offshoot of Islam and makes up around five percent of Lebanon's population but has wielded political clout under his father.    (AFP)

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