Lebanon is embroiled in a confusion about what time it is after the government decided to change when daylight savings time would start. The move was meant to get popular approval from Muslims in the country during the fasting month of Ramadan, but it was also met with backlash from the powerful Maronite Church, which rejected the change.
As a result, half of the country is now on GMT+2, and the other half is on GMT+3.
The country is currently roiled by political and economic problems, with 80 percent of the population now living in poverty, and a political deadlock with no government formed 10 months after a parliamentary election.
Christians and Muslims share power across religious and sectarian lines in Lebanon, and disagreements aren’t new to the country.
The power-sharing system gives the premiership to a Sunni Muslim, the presidency to a Christian, and the parliament chairmanship to a Shia Muslim. This mechanism has led to corruption, nepotism, and a gradual slide into economic ruin.
In an attempt to accommodate Muslims during Ramadan, Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister, Najib Mikati, announced on Thursday that this year’s daylight savings time change would be postponed until the 20th of April. On Monday, he reversed the decision, and the whole country will be on GMT+3 from Wednesday.
The idea was to give an extra hour before sunset for people to break their fast at around 6PM rather than at 7PM. The move was met with opposition from the powerful Maronite Church, which refused to comply with the last-minute changes, citing lack of appropriate coordination.
The Church changed its clocks from midnight on Sunday and said in a statement that the decision by the government came as “surprising” and complained about the lack of engagement with Christians.
Others who had their time changed through their phone operators blamed the confusion on the last-minute change by the government.
The dispute over which time to use has confused airline schedules, and a video posted on social media showed two of the clocks in Beirut’s Rafic Hariri Airport showing different times. Middle East Airlines put out a statement that it would adjust all of its flights by one hour to avoid confusion with international schedules.
Lebanon’s summertime confusion has only added to the country's woes, with many taking to social media to mock the latest political gaffe. Lebanese flooded social media with memes about which timezone to pick from for the coming few weeks.