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Daylight savings dispute divides Lebanon into separate time zones

BEIRUT — The Lebanese government’s last-minute decision to delay the start of daylight savings time by a month until the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan resulted in mass confusion today.

With some institutions implementing the change while others refuse, many Lebanese have found themselves in the position of juggling work and school schedules in different time zones — in a country that is just 88 kilometers (55 miles) at its widest point.

In some cases, the debate is taking on a sectarian nature, with many Christian politicians and institutions, including the small nation’s largest church, the Maronite Church, rejecting the move.

The small Mediterranean country normally sets its clocks forward an hour on the last Sunday in March, which aligns with most European countries.

However, on Thursday Lebanon’s government announced a decision by caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati to push the start of daylight savings to April 21.

No reason was given for the decision, but a video of a meeting between Mikati and Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri leaked to local media showed Berri asking Mikati to postpone the implementation of daylight savings time to allow Muslims to break their Ramadan fast an hour earlier.

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