Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Christian Maronite

Massacres of 1860 between Druze and Maronite: Eye-witness Account of French diplomat in the field

In 1860, Mount Lebanon was composed of:

1. About 120,00 Christian Maronite

2. 30,000 Druze, claiming to be Moslem

3. 40,000 Christian Orthodox who were called Melkite or Royalist affiliated to Byzantium instead of Papal Rome

4. A few thousand of Shiaa called Metwalis

After the animosity of 1840 between Druze and Maronite, as the Egyptian occupying troops, headed by Ibrahim Pasha, vacated Lebanon and Syria and Emir Bechir II was sent to exile to Malta by the British, Mount Lebanon was wrecked with violence and massacres.

The resolution of the situation ended up dividing Mount Lebanon in two Kaemmakam, or two cantons, self autonomous: One canton administered by the Druze and the second one by the Maronite.

The dividing line was the Beirut-Damascus road. This line was somehow arbitrary since many villages in the Druze cantons were mixed. The Maronite canton was not mixed.

The Ottoman foreign minister, Chekib Effendi was sent to Beirut in 1845 to execute the resolution.

The Druze were not happy with the privileges that Emir Bashir II extended to the Maronites during his over 40 years of reign and were ready to have the Christians pay back as Bashir was exiled to Malta by the British.

Before Egypt Ibrahim Pasha retreated from Syria in 1840, he summoned the Moslem clerics and leaders of Damascus and gave them this warning:

“I have protected the Christians. If I learn that you are back to persecuting and harassing them, I will be back with my army and will take revenge…”

All the while the Maronite exacerbated the Ottoman administrators for demanding the acquired rights and privileges after Ibrahim Pasha vacated Lebanon.

In 1940 and again in 1845, the Maronites launched two offensives in the Druze canton and were smashed hands down.

The Druze warlords and chieftains behaviors were close to Medieval tradition: The Maronite were laborers at the sold of the Druze feudal lords and treated as chattel.

The village of Deir al Kamar was the largest Maronite conglomerate, smack within the Druze canton, followed by Jezzine (on the south) and Beit Merry (at the north and within the Metn district). Zahleh was the far away Christian main town in the Bekaa Valley.

Hasbaya, in the southern part of the Bekaa, was mainly mixed with Christian Orthodox who were very industrious and amassed wealth.

In 1857, the Christian Kaemmakam Bechir Ahmed Abi Lema3 was kicked out of office by the Christians, leaving a serious void in the administration. The Ottoman administration wanted to bring back this Kaemmakam to his post.

At the same period, the Christian feudal Khazen clan in Kesrouan had been chased out of the district for serious egregious mistreatment of the peasants, trying to abuse of them as chattel. Consequently, the Maronite canton had no one to administer it: The Maronite clergy was the sole power remaining to keep the peace.

The peasant appointed the illiterate Tannous (Tanios) Chahine as leader of the peasant revolt. They gathered in Antelias and promulgated the human rights for the peasants and work ethics.

The Maronite peasants in the Druze canton got contaminated by the spirit of the revolt in the Maronite canton and started demanding basic rights.

This revolt lasted two years until the Maronite clergy felt the heat and reversed the objectives of the revolt. A year later, the Maronite clergy appointed the young Youssef Karam from Bsherri (up north) to militarily lead the Maronites. Karam was closely linked to the clergy and France and welcomed the Europeans visiting the Cedars and gave them lodging and dinner.

The Druze Kaemmakam Roslan was very young and basically this canton was administered by Said Jumblat, residing in Moukhtara, and the assembly of Okkal in Bayyada.

Said Jumblat was filthy rich and had acquired vast properties. He was a bastard, very short, ugly, and wore Turkish attire instead of the Druze traditional sherwal.

In 1960, a row took place in Beit Mery, where the European traders and consuls lived for the summer season. This fight spread and the Druze assassinated a few Maronites and burned property.  In general, the Druze men do the killing and their women follow them to burn properties that have been vacated.

The first blood was shed. The European vacated the town, back down to Beirut, a couple hours of horse ride.

Beit Mery was legally in the Maronite canton, but the Metn district was tacitly considered a buffer zone. Consequently, the Nahr el Kalb (Dog River) was the Lebanese Rubicon river not to cross by either parties in period of military upheavals.

The Druze committed another massacre in Jezzine and calmly went back to harvest the silk worms.

The winter of 1961 was spent in both cantons in war preparations.

In Beirut, the Maronite bishop Tobia was the most active politically and harangued the Maronite for revenge.

The Druze attacked Deir al Kamar and the villages of East Saida. The Christians around Saida, fleeing the massacre, were denied safe entry to the city by the Moslems and more Maronites suffered this calamity. (Story to be followed)

Note: Memoirs of a French diplomat who participated in the French expedition of 1860 to Lebanon and Damascus. The book was published in 1903.

“All I care for is to stay Loyal to my Childhood…”:  A statement or a teaching?

This statement was of the French author Bernanos in his “The Grand cemeteries under the moon“.

My big problem is that I cannot consciously recall that I had ever asked myself questions in my childhood. Did my unconscious ever asked questions? That’s an abstract notion: Not the unconscious mind concept.

The next problem that I am having as a kid, and most of my life and going on…is that I am not proud of my naïve and slow learning experiences

How in that case can I be loyal to a phase in my life that refused or failed to reflect and take conscious decisions and actions?

If I were social smart, I would have reinvented a “self” and stayed loyal to what I have created by hard work and efforts…

“It is up to me” was my motto when I was all alone, struggling to survive, away from family and close relatives… But, this motto was intrinsically linked to a survival mind-fix, and barely has risen up to a level of a “concrete” grand value

It never occurred to me the idea that “They will try to change you, but you have to remain the same…”

I don’t recall playing with a toy, just can’t remember these kinds of instances or objects around me…

Have I ever been scared of death in my childhood? I don’t recall such a strong emotion. May it be safe to deduct that I felt immortal and death was out of a subject matter?

Even in the darkest of moments, when I was one step to becoming a homeless person, the idea that my time has come couldn’t touch my mind.

I don’t recall having discussions with my parents, family members or even close relatives. However I could take stands based on “common sense” and be willing to be beaten up for my position.

Like the time when grown up students were humiliating a Moslem classmate in the court yard, the only Moslem in the boarding school, a classmate I had no conversation with, and yet I took stand for him because it made no sense to attack children based on religious affiliation when you are totally ignorant about this particular religion.

I knew nothing about Islam, and my Sunni Moslem classmate didn’t know much about Islam, and the grown up students understanding was based on community idiosyncrasies

A aunt of my mother was a nun in the administration of that Christian Maronite all male private boarding school, and she never missed a religious occasion to have me decked as an angel. I was also expected to help the priest in the early morning church ceremony… All routine tasks that I didn’t care to think hard for considering a substitute job instead.

I recall in my first communion that I tried hard to emulate my team behaviors as the faithful, be sincere in my first confession of sins and the belief that all my sins were washed out… I just couldn’t recall what sins I could have made to confess of in the first place…

I didn’t have to act hard that I am one of the faithful: my dumb face was there to convince anyone of my total loyalty in Jesus, Marie, Joseph and all the stories of daily behaviors of customs and traditions of particular communities that religious book are packed with.

If I scratch a skin deeper, I have this strong impression that I basically had a doubtful mind in matter of opinions crowding around me: I could easily feel detached from the common opinions, though not being able to voice a reasonable counter opinion

It is not a childhood to be loyal to if you cannot remember anything before you are 6 of age. And whatever events that you recall have made you feel discarded, isolatde, unfit to play with schoolmates and share their common activities…

It is not a childhood to feel loyal to if you cannot recall having a meaningful conversation with parents, relatives or schoolmates, and felt reciprocated emotions…

Basically, “Staying loyal to childhood…” means:

“You are what you were in childhood: The world view you were made to construct, the ways you were trained to think and behave…”

“Staying loyal to childhood…” means:

“You are how your unconscious and subconscious minds were formed in childhood, the idiosyncrasies you accumulated…”

This statement is generally correct for most grown ups and it does not to be honored: You have a brain to think and a will to change what does not fit into your matured reality.

It is a life task to rethink your childhood and change your views and behaviors.

A characteristic that I adhere to from my childhood is to take stands against injustices based on idiosyncratic behaviors.

And I don’t consciously think that I was trained for that leaning. Be loyal to the good inner feeling of revolting against injustices: That’s the kind of loyalty to childhood you should retain.

Note 1:  Franz Kafka wrote in his diary of 1922:

“With no ancestors, no marriage, no descendants…. with a violent desire for ancestors, marriage, descendants.

All of them ancestors, marriage, descendants tend their hands toward me, but they are too far for reach.

There exists for each thing… ancestors, marriage, descendants a sort of pitiful and artificial compensation. We create these compensation amid the spasms of pains and suffering.

And if we are not destroyed by the violent spasms, we are by the desolate poor values of our compensations,”

Note 2:  Shocking mankind https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2010/10/03/who-is-mankind/

« Sans ancêtres, sans mariage, sans descendants, avec un violent désir d'ancêtres, de mariage, de descendants. Tous, ancêtres, mariage et descendants me tendent la main, mais trop loin pour moi.<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Il existe pour toute chose, pour les ancêtres, le mariage, les descendants, une compensation artificielle et pitoyable. On crée cette compensation dans des spasmes de douleur, et, à supposer qu'on ne soit pas détruit par la seule violence des spasmes, on l'est par la pauvreté désolante de la compensation. »</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Franz Kafka - Journal ; 21 janvier 1922
Translated Kafka’s French text :
« Sans ancêtres, sans mariage, sans descendants, avec un violent désir d’ancêtres, de mariage, de descendants. Tous, ancêtres, mariage et descendants me tendent… la main, mais trop loin pour moi. Il existe pour toute chose, pour les ancêtres, le mariage, les descendants, une compensation artificielle et pitoyable. On crée cette compensation dans des spasmes de douleur, et, à supposer qu’on ne soit pas détruit par la seule violence des spasmes, on l’est par la pauvreté désolante de la compensation. »
Franz Kafka – Journal ; 21 janvier 1922

Part 7. “On the wild trails of Mount Lebanon”: Toward Barouk; (Mar. 11, 2010)

Advancing toward Barouk, Pierre passes a kiosk manned by an old couple; the couple invites him and he observes many parsley patches arranged in Indian file.  The ascent is relentless and Pierre reaches the village of Fraydis.

Pierre meets his friend Mazen, living on the first floor of a building. Pierre enjoys a hot shower and then dinner was ready; in the menu lentil “moujaddara”. Mazen’s garden is arranged with large heavy weight tires. The interior is well-kept and clean for a single man.  Mazen drinks “matte” (a tea like drink appreciated in South America and Lebanese who lived there).

On the morning of day 18, Pierre is running out of cocoa and powder milk for breakfast. Next target town is Maaser El Chouf.

Pierre meets an old sheikh in traditional “cherwal” and long white beard.  From Barouk the trail is a steady ascent.  An hour later, Pierre reaches the top of the mountain; he sees a rusted trapper bait. Ahead is a virgin plain (no detritus, no quarries, and no cement).

At Maaser el Chouf an old man invites him for a drink of raspberry syrup; the grandsons are wearing no black cherwal, but new generation cherwal.

At 1 pm, it is time for lunch but the season of tourists is not yet in: the shops are closed.  A snack bar prepares Pierre humus with sausages.

Jim, an intermediary of his friend Raja, is to bring Pierre the keys to the house.  In the meantime, Pierre tries to take a nap under a nut-tree but flies prevent the resting pause. He walks to an ice cream parlor and talks with kids.  Pierre and Jim spend the evening on the balcony.

In the morning, Pierre waits for 3 of his friends to join him for noon barbecue.  Pierre’s walking companion calls to rejoin the trip.  Next target town is Niha.

The two walkers start at 8 am and pass Khraybeh and then to Baadarane.  The “moukhtar of the village asks questions: he is worried that Hezbollah is using various spying techniques. According to the moukhtar, the latest technique was using goats to take pictures by attaching cameras around their necks. The travelers eat mankouch at the only bakery in Baadarane. They pass a water reservoir.

Niha is renowned for its prophet Ayoub (Job); a Druze house cult is perched on a mountain.  According to the gate-keeper, Ayoub was plagued by skin diseases for 40 years; his wife was the only person to ascend his isolated place to feed him. When Ayoub was healed he went to Yemen where he died.

Pierre had a nap under a pine tree; Chamoun talks to the man in the kiosk.  Pierre is observing ants.  He is thinking “nothing can obstruct humankind evolution; the ecosystem is degrading at an alarming rate. And if God was created by man? Better start studying animals seriously: they might have a better outlook to life purpose.”

An hour later, they head toward the town of Jezzine; they drink from a spring.  A young cultivator on a tractor confirms the correctness of the trail.  They face a panel warning of mines: they are at the “frontier” separating the Druze communities from “Hezbollah Land”.

Two armed civilians of the Druze “unofficial militias” arrive in a car: they explain how to circumvent the mined land by following metal pickets planted at the right side of the route that is closed by dirt barrages. Pierre leads; 500 meters later there are no pickets.

They decide to follow the path where plants have grown; then the passage becomes impracticable and they walk haphazardly.  It was an awful one kilometer-stretch not to recount to your mother.

It is 7 pm and they reach another quarry; they descend to a dry river bed. Within 5 minutes, they are longing main road.

A lonely woman is having evening walk.  Chamoun extracts his pamphlets and start to “dizzy” the lady.  Jezzine is packed with coffee shops, walking people, cars, music: an urban sense of activities. Selim hollers to Pierre; Selim lives in Beirut and manages a coffee shop in Jezzine on week ends.

Pierre’s friend Raymond has called his aunt to arrange for Pierre’s night comfort. It turned out there are several persons with the exact name of Raymond’s aunt.  Tony, the son of the lady is a priest in civilian cloths when not “on the job”.  Tony is a modern new generation priest: he plays billiard, swims, and has a cellular; he leads a normal life contrary to the conservative life style of the Christian Maronite clergy.

The aun’st husband was badly hurt by one of the million cluster bombs that Israel dropped in the last three days of the 33 days war in July 2006.  Pierre plays a card game “likha” before tuning in to sleep.

It was decided that the rest of the trip will be on regular roads to avoid being blown up by a mine.

Beware of the senile stubbornness of an 88 year-old Patriarch; (Nov. 4, 2009)

A serious conclave of all Christian sects (heretic or not) in the Middle East is required.

First some history is needed to set the background.  The Christian Maronite sect was considered heretic by both the Orthodox Church of the Byzantium Empire and by Papal Rome.  The Maronites were monotheists (One God; not three as of Father, Son, and Virgin Mary) and also they believed in only the spiritual existence of Jesus not his physical nature.  Thus, this sect was persecuted by two strong Empires with central Churches.

When the Crusading forces entered the Near East after sacking Constantinople, on their way to Jerusalem in 1100, the Maronite sect decided to pay allegiance to the Pope.  Thus, this sect was saved from being labelled a heretic sect, doomed for constant persecution, and enjoyed the military and political backing of Rome.

This sect has migrated to the northern mountains of Lebanon after the schism of the year 1000 between Rome and Byzantium, and the subsequent major massacres of the “heretic” Christian sects.  Since then, the Maronite sect obeyed the decisions of the central Catholic Church of Rome, both the spiritual and temporal.

The Church of Rome  was the main temporal decision maker in Europe, and thus the Maronite Church facilitated the infiltration of colonial establishments as trade centers, first in Sidon and then to Beirut, to the French and the Italians.  The British and Russia established also commercial centers in Lebanon and had to circumvent the Maronite influence by encouraging respectively Protestantism and the Russian Christian Orthodoxy.

During the civil war of Lebanon (1975-1991), the Catholic Church proved to be mostly impotent to end the war that relegated the Maronite to the third political power, instead of the first since the independence of Lebanon. It also happened during the civil war that a new Patriarch was to be elected. Rome selected her favorite Bishop and the Christian militias selected their own. No Patriarch could be elected after four rounds of secret voting. Thus, Nasr Allah Sfeir was elected to overcome the impasse.

Since then, Patriarch Sfeir made it a personal vendetta to counter Rome’s interference in the Maronite decisions when opportunities knocked.  This Patriarch was openly favorable to the Lebanese Forces militia during the civil war and going even stronger now.  It is to be noted that the current leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Jaajah, is the officially a convicted murderer a spent 11 years in prison.

Jaajah was politically liberated in 2005 after serving 11 years in prison for assassinating prime ministers, many officials, and running a state within a state, a forming his own court martial tribunals.

Currently, Lebanon is at an impasse: the appointed Sunni Deputy Saad Harriri (with the largest block in Parliament) was to form a unity government five months ago; he failed, delivered his resignation, and was then re-appointed with a mere 72 vote out of 124; Harriri has no success so far to forming a unity government.

Patriarch Sfeir would like us to believe that the majority should form a government so that Lebanon could enjoy a democratic system of parliamentary opposition. Sound sweet to the ears of the non-initiated western politicians on Lebanese political system.

First, the new Taef Constitution, enacted in 1989 during Lebanon’s civil war, striped the Maronite President of major rights and forced upon the Lebanese a system of fair representation by the major religious sects in any government.  Now the Chiaa, the majority in Lebanon (forming more than 45%) of the population), are in the opposition; if they refuse to participate in a government then the President cannot abrogate a government devoid of any Chiaa ministers commensurate to their ratio.

Thus, a unity government is a must to form any government constitutionally.

Patriarch Sfeir know that formula but he is trying relentlessly to put obstacles to the formation of a unity government under the guise of “democratic practices”.  The other problem is that the new Parliament has no longer a majority of Deputies:  Since the election in June, the 8 Druze Deputies of Walid Jumblatt have taken a neutral position, and thus denied the previous majority any claim to current majority.  This fact also, the Patriarch is happy to forget and resumes his senile stubbornness.

What is in line to the Christians in the Middle East? How to go from here?  Since the Christians of all affiliations are confirmed minorities in every States in the Middle East,  I suggest that all Christian sects (heretic or not) existing in Palestine, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Turkey meet in a formal conclave to decide on fundamental programs of administrative and executive assemblies to regaining their rights as minorities.

It is totally irrelevant to dwell on abstract dogma, but to find pragmatic common denominators for feasible detailed programs for survival as a culture.

I sincerely feel that the major Christian sect of “Roum Orthodox” (over 7 millions in the Near East) change their name:  This name reflects allegiance to a long defunct Byzantium Empire (and current Greece is not a proper political or spiritual substitute). The same will go to all sects paying allegiance in their names so that Christianity in the Middle East reflects a patriotic feeling of belonging to a specific people and nation.

It is urgent that a unity executive body with wide range of power be confident to quickly and swiftly preempt any laws that might restrict their fundamental rights, or encourage other religious sects to gaining rights not proportional to their numbers.

Note:  Three years after publishing this article, Patriarch Sfeir was pressured to resign by Rome (he is over 88 years), and a new more opened minded Patriarch was elected.  It is rumored that Rome knew that Sfeir encouraged the US government of G.W.Bush to resume the war on Lebanon in June 2006, after 33 days of terrible Israeli devastation of our country.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
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