President Taj al-Din al-Hasani of Syria. While the Lebanese have been in a constant struggle for independence from outside powers since Old Testament times, the modern struggle for Lebanese independence can be traced mission de Phenicie… PDF to the emergence of Fakhr-al-Din II in the late 16th century, a Druze chief who became the first local leader in a thousand years to bring the major sects of Mount Lebanon into sustained mutual interaction.
In response to a massacre of Maronites by Druze during the 1860 civil war, 6000 French troops landed near Beirut to ostensibly protect the Maronite communities. The Ottoman sultan had no choice but to approve the French landing at Beirut and review the status of Mount Lebanon. Electoral representation and rough demographic weighting of communal membership was established after the foundation of the autonomous Mount Lebanon province. A two-stage electoral process became refined over several decades, with secret balloting introduced in 1907. Mount Lebanon became the only Ottoman provincial council that was democratically elected, representing members of the major sects. Elections for one-third of the council seats took place every two years.
With the onset of World War I, the Ottoman Sultanate began to disintegrate. In response, the Ottomans abolished the autonomous province of Mount Lebanon in 1915, putting the mountain communities under emergency military rule. The repression culminated on May 6, 1916, with the hanging of 14 activists and journalists, including proponents of both Arab and Lebanese independence, Christians and Muslims, clerics and secularists. Following Ottoman repression, the Arabs were fed up with Ottoman rule.