BEIRUT – On Friday, the Universal Syriac Union Party (USUP) in Lebanon held a seminar at its headquarters about the situation of Christians in Lebanon. Entitled “Christians and the Current Reality”, the seminar’s main speaker was writer Antoine Najm.
The seminar was attended by the President of the USUP Ibrahim Mrad, USUP leadership, political and social figures, civil society personalities, and a number of academics.
USUP Vice President Laila Latti welcomed the audience and intellectual and writer Antoine Najm, highlighting the struggles he had experienced throughout his life.
Mr. Antoine Najm initiated the seminar with a quote from Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Exhortation: “Lebanon is not just a country. It represents a message of freedom and a model for pluralism, for the East and West”. Najm confirmed that the Christians’ fundamental issue is one of freedom and the need for a true, real, political and legal equality be created between them and the other citizens.
“The number one Lebanese issue is the elevation of ordinary Lebanese coexistence to the level of TRUE Lebanese coexistence, which can be achieved through a governance formula that bolsters the existence of all Lebanese groups and gives completely equal rights to all of them,” said Najm. “However, accomplishing this formula demands a general Lebanese belief in Lebanon as a final home, and a Lebanese adherence to Lebanon as a distinct political entity.
President of the USUP Ibrahim Mrad also delivered a speech in which he welcomed Mr. Najm and thanked him for his seminar. Mrad called upon all parties to refer to the ideological thoughts and educate the partisan thinker among them so as to create sound communities where loyalty is not to a leader – treated as a god by some – but to thought and homeland, instead.
Mrad also considered the tragedies and sorrows faced today by the Christian community are very similar to those already experienced in Lebanon’s tumultuous recent history. Mrad referenced “that time when we fought and resisted those who wanted to throw us into the sea and replace us with other people, but we won and we remained” remarking that through unity, the Christian communities in Lebanon can persevere.
Mrad highlighted the massacres which the Syriac people had already suffered in Turkey, Iraq, and Syria, in addition to their resistance. However, he confirmed his refusal to surrender to despair, disappointment, and immigration commenting that “the homeland is not a travel bag”, you cannot take it with you.
At the conclusion of the seminar, Mr. Mrad offered Mr. Najm a memorial shield as gratitude and appreciation for his intellectual and national accomplishments.
Friday’s seminar was part of a series of seminars organized by the Universal Syriac Union Party at its headquarters in Beirut.
The seminar was attended by Secretary General and founder of the Continual Federal Congress Dr. Alfred Riachi, Chairman of the Independence Movement Dr. Razi al-Hajj, member of the Maten Movement Eng. Shukri Mukarzel, member of the Orient Forum for Diversity Dr. Camille Alfred Shimon, political analyst and journalist Professor Bechara Khairallah, Dr. Roger Choueiri, President of the National Dialogue Party Elias Melki, President of the Lebanese Forces political bureau lawyer Elie Sharbashi, member of the Syriac Catholic League Dr. Imad Rizk, head of the Consultative Studies Office, parents, Shihab Atallah and Fadi Iskandar, pastor Dr. Elias Melki, and General Michel Nahhas.