Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Christian Orthodox

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.

Rainbow over the Levant: Latifa’s Regency. A Short story

Note:  This short story is set in 14th century Mount Lebanon.  It is a chapter of the novel Rainbow over the Levant

As soon as the Mameluk Sultan of Egypt received news of the First Emir trip abroad he downgraded the title of the Levant Ambassador to Cairo to Trade Consul instead of closing down the Embassy for the simple reason that the Egyptian noble class craved luxury items that should be kept flowing in through Alexandria. A trade embargo for all non luxury products imported from the Levant was strictly enforced. The total number of the Levant civil foreign servants was maintained for three months, the time for the Mameluks to sort out the potential agents among them that might serve their interests and only fifteen members out of 45 were permitted to remain in Egypt.

When news reached the Grand Vizier of Egypt that the First Emir had landed in Andalusia he masterminded a frantic backlash on the Levantine immigrants in Egypt.  The prosperous and those with solid ties with the noble class were forewarned and fled to Yemen and Arab North Africa.  A few ended on some European ports to resume their mercantile trades as best they could.  Only the dispirited immigrants returned to the Levant praying that Timorlank would not contemplate to devastate Mount Lebanon.

Latifa was conservative and shrewd.  She was not kept up to date with government details and did not follow closely the changes taking place in the kingdom but she retained a high understanding for the power struggle that was in the offing.  She knew that the power seat had shifted to Beirut because of its location for trade, diplomacy and industrial development but figured that with the First Emir’s absence the historic Capital of Mtein could recapture the leverage it exercised at the beginning of the insurgency through its symbolic power for the Nation.

Latifa ordered that the Capital during the Regency would be Mtein and managed to transfer branches for most of the government ministries to be established in the historic Capital and its vicinity.  Since barely 20% of the kingdom’s budget was allocated to the mountain regions of over 800 meters in altitude and only 15% actually spent there her second major decision was that within 2 years half of the Nation’s budget had to be allocated in her mountainous regions; in the mean time 50% of the budget allocated to education, infrastructure, health and agriculture had to be spent in the mountains, with priority given to its population in the civil services.

The work on the highway crossing Mount Lebanon from south to north at 1,000 meters altitude was rescheduled to resume with scares resources, and security garrisons interspersed the rest areas along the highway to provide comfort and help to travelers until private businesses bided for the facilities. The Christian Orthodox managed to secure a higher rate in numbers as civil servants commensurate to their proportion and that was partly due to increased pressure from the Regent and also because they were the most educated generally.

 Latifa had a tender passion and affection for the town of Zahle in the central Bakaa Valley that she visited once before the insurgency and twice afterwards; she also understood its central location for internal and overland trades as well as being the main town with a sizable Christian concentration in the Bekaa.  Consequently, the Regent exhibited determination so that Zahle enjoyed a period of investment in real capital which renewed and expanded its warehouses for agricultural and textile goods, resort facilities around the Berdawny River crossing the town and enlarging the main trade roads leading to town.

During her regency the Christian clergy regained most of their power through reduced tax breaks and a renewed zeal for religious beliefs; monasteries were repaired and embellished, religious schools increased and churches regained their luster with acquisitions and renovations.

Mariam finally set her mind to build herself a beautiful and large house in Mtein so that she could stay in constant touch with the Regent and keep close eyes on her associations and the political opportunists buzzing in the Capital.  Her main responsibility was to be the intermediary among Latifa, the Viceroy Gergis and the ministers in Beirut and Baldat El Mir.  Her male companion Ignatios Doumani was already appointed director of a new branch of the Linguistic Institute in Mtein and supervised the construction of the house which included a spacious annex for accommodating overnight guests and high ranking functionaries.

How Miriam enticed youth to join the Aram National party

Before Latifa’s Regency, most of the youth in villages and towns in the mountains were enthusiastic about the activities and opportunities offered by the Aram National Party and inflated the membership of that Party since there was no other political party to challenge or compete with.  The other alternative to attract and organize youth was the religious community services headed by very old people who lacked ingenuity and diversity in activities.

With the advent of Latifa to the Regency a new political twist was offered to the religious zealots who minded very much the relative secular principles of the Aram Party and labeled them as heretical.  With the support of Latifa the clergy endeavored to create another political party counterpart called “Mount Lebanon First” which emphasized the integrity of allegiance to the Metn and with some arm twisting extension to the regions of Mount Lebanon that had Christian majority.  The new party was thrust among the youth through key words such as tradition, allegiance to the Regent, Christian faith, mountain customs, and respect of and obedience to the clergy, respect of family unity and attendance at all religious events and ceremonies.

One critical factor for the sudden successes of this “Mount Lebanon First” party was the decree which ended the seclusion of the traditional noblemen in their encampments.  Many of the younger generations of former noblemen had been integrated in society, in the army, in the civil service or members of industries and trade without any feudal titles or financial or social privileges that they had enjoyed before the insurgency.  The older generations had managed to develop the lands assigned to them in the towns of confinement but many had nostalgia for their former villages and wished to be allowed to transfer there.

The clergy worked relentlessly on Latifa to rescind the old decree concerning the imprisoned noblemen because this political gesture would strengthen the validity of the new party as a staunch supporter of traditions. The government of the Levant reached a consensus with Latifa to free the old feudal classes with the following stipulations: first, the freed feudal persons would not be permitted to leave Mount Lebanon and second, their feudal titles could not be inherited and they could keep the title of “Cheikh”, if they wished, till their death.  A fresh period of forgiveness and unity was proclaimed by the Regent which was at best skin deep and would eventually harm the future of the Nation and wipe out the many political and social gains of the revolution.

Within two years every village was more or less split between these two political factions; a village was divided into parts with majority in allegiance to either Parties and local ceremonies were marred by conflicts and physical confrontations.  The traditional harmony of apathy and stillness in village life transcended the clan and tribal affiliation to encompassing fundamental political divergences.

Mariam had sensed early on that the source of that schism was less a religious recrudescence of faith, but rather a direct vengeance of Latifa for Mariam’s ascendancy in the heart and mind of the youth and, especially, the female renewed activities for their rights in society.  Mariam launched political counter offensives in the mountain and increased the Aram Party involvement in regions far from Latifa’s personal influence and authority biding time for the return of the First Emir from his exile.

Miriam invested on the children attending the boarding schools and expanded their activities by planning marching trips of a week long early on and at the end of the schooling seasons. The children were chaperoned by teachers and “Makerehs” the merchant guides.  The “Makereh” guided the caravan through well trodden shortcut routes by mules and donkeys and teaching the kids the tricks of the trade such as what to bring as supplies and where to select resting location and how to respect the properties of others and the traditions of what trees and fruits are permitted to eat as travelers.

The selected teachers were to instruct the kids on the geography of the land and encourage them to observe and note down the different customs, way of life, songs and folkloric dances in Mount Lebanon

The children were usually lodged in small groups with families in the villages bringing with them gifts of packets of fresh and dried fruits and seasonal staples. The guest families were given advanced notice of the arrival of the school convoys and they cleaned their homes thoroughly as hospitality obliged and they cooked abundant portions to feed the voracious kids. These trips were to allow social learning of the customs of other regions of Mount Lebanon and circumvent ignorant myths spread by isolation.  Mariam’s programs were successful in many respects, however, the seeds of confessional tendencies were planted and many religious sects tried to create their own “first allegiance” parties with slight variations.

The barbaric Catholic Church; (October 13, 2009)

 

            There is a resurgence of Islamophobia in France couched under the pretext of discovering the origins of European civilization as a combination of Greek and Christian cultures. It would be worthwhile to set the historical facts straight for any meaningful reply.

            Since 325 AC to around 700 AC there was a Christian Empire dominated by Byzantium with Capital in Constantinople. This empire was to the east of the Euphrates River, crossing Turkey, Syria, and Iraq, all the way to England and including North Africa. It was basically a Mediterranean Sea Empire.  To the west of the Euphrates River there was a Persian Empire, mostly under the Sassanide Dynasty.  The Arabic Empire did not conquer the western part of Turkey which remained with the Byzantium Empire until 1450 when the Ottoman Sultan Muhammad 2 entered Constantinople and spread all the way to the borders of Vienna in Austria.

            In around 1000 a major schism in Christianity split the Catholic Church of Rome with the Christian Orthodox Church of Constantinople. Actually, the initial Crusade campaigns had for objective to conquer Constantinople and coerce the Orthodox Church into uniting with Rome. That is what took place and Constantinople was ransacked and burned before the Crusading forces marched on toward Jerusalem. The other successive Crusading incursions had for objective to capture Egypt and free the spice routes directly to Europe without paying taxes to the Moslem Kingdoms along the maritime and land caravan routes.

            Thus, from 325 to 1450 Europe was Christian.  Why Greek civilization, if Europe insists on taking the source of its culture from antique Greece, was not prevalent during over 11 centuries?  Why Europe remained barbaric till the 15th century?  Is it because the Christian dogma of Rome was barbaric and refused other civilizations and cultures to infiltrate Europe?  Certainly the Christian clerics were at least bilingual, mostly Latin and Greek, and consequently, if Greece had any culture it would have been translated into Latin. Some would give the lame excuse that the scholars in Europe, mostly the clerics, could read the Greek manuscripts in their original forms and had no need to translate any manuscripts into Latin or other live languages; this would be another proof that the Catholic Church of Rome was barbaric and refused philosophical and scientific disciplines to penetrate into Europe.

            Europe experienced a demographic surge around 1000 AC; it is after getting in contact with the Near East culture and civilization (under Arabic/Islamic kingdoms) during the Crusading campaigns that culture entered Europe from the open door.  Even after the total defeat of the Crusaders in 1200 the Near East culture permeation would continue via Andalusia in southern Spain. The Arabic/Moslem civilization in Spain was the main source for the transfer of sciences into Europe until the “Christian” Spanish monarchs conquered completely Spain in around 1400 and chased out Moslems and Jews from its territory.

            Greece after Aristotle did not produced much in culture.  It was just a brilliant century for the City-State of Athens during Pericles period, as so many glorious periods for a dozen other City-States that dotted the Mediterranean shores and the Euphrates River, from Mary, Harran, Edessee, Ugharite, Tripoli, Byblos, Beirut, Sidon, Tyr, and much later Alexandria, Antiochus, and Ephesus, and on that scholars and archeologists have to start focusing on for the origins of civilizations.  The proof is that the Byzantium Empire that was established in Greece for over 11 centuries is no where mentioned as source for any worthwhile civilization.

            Macedonian warriors under Alexander conquered the Near East; it is not because the Near East people, from Alexandria, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, and coastal Turkey, who assimilated the Greek language and spread their own culture and civilization in the Greek language that Europe has to claim its civilization to Greece. Europe should not. It is the Near East culture and civilization that assimilated the languages of the various conquerors (Mesopotamians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs from the Arabic Peninsula, Ottomans from the Turkish Plateau, French colonialism, and English colonialism) that absorbed and disseminated the fundamental cultures and civilizations to its neighboring environment.  

            It is not because of the invasion of nomadic warriors from the Arabic Peninsula that Arabic civilization should be labeled Arab.  Why the Mogul Empires that lasted longer than many Empires and stretched much further than many are not given any civilization?  It is a shame that Europe still feels the urge to attribute civilization to military conquering warriors.

 

Note: The title was meant to be catchy to drive through the purpose of the topic. I have no zeal to dwell into religions of any kinds. I would like readers to refer to my recent post “Damascus saved the Greek culture”.

Bi-Weekly Report (#21) on the Middle East and Lebanon (May 9, 2009)

 

            The US Administration keeps flopping between the policy of a peace treaty (Israel/ Syria) first or a Palestinian homeland in the Near East.  So far, the US Administration has changed priority more than once in a single month and the US delegates are crusing the regions for a hint and a suggestion while carrying all kinds of tentative projects.  The energumen Israeli foreign affairs minister, investigated for criminal activities by the Israeli police, is visiting a few European States to confirm his opposition for a Palestinian State.  Thus, the US is pleasuring Israel by shifting its priority to (Israel/Syria) peace treaty first.

            Anyone of these projects to take off there are powerful regional powers to satisfy.  For Syria there are Iran and Turkey that should cooperate fully and sign their agreements.  Iran would pressure the US first, to handle the nuclear arm policy equitably since Israel owns one too many nuclear arms; and second, that the treaty preserves unconditionally the sovereignity of Syria in the Golan Heights. This is no longer a State to State treaty but a regional status of dignity that no usurper is to enjoy advantages by military forces.

  1. Turkey would insists that France drops her veto to a potential attachement of Turkey to the European Union; otherwise, why Turkey would go at such length and effort to get re-immersed in regional quagmires?   The other condition of Turkey is that Moslem Syria is not pressured into “losing face” and thus, exacerbates the sense of humiliation and desperation that the Arab World has been subjugated to for centuries.

 

            One policy that the US Adminstration has decided on and is executing with the support of the Pakistany army and government is to defeating the military power of the Taliban style ideology in norther Pakistan.  Pakistan is the main source of instability in order to re-arrange the Greater Middle East stability.  I hope that the Barak Administration has already extended its military policy in Pakistan into including the social and economic stability and viability of the Pakistani State.  Pakistan is worth heavy investment in money and time until the Taliban (Wahhabit) ideology is contained and controlled.

 

            For the Palestinian homestate to take off there are Egypt and Saudi Arabia to be satisfied, assuming that Syria has signed a peace treaty with Israel.  Egypt would insist that first, its enjoys the status of the most preferred nation in Gaza, kind of practical mandate if not diplomatically; and second, that Israel relinquishes any kinds of controls in the Palestinian State that Egypt might be denied, and third, (during the Mubarak dictatorship) that Hamas is not to be the most powerful faction in the Palestinian government and Parliament: Mubarak understands that the “Moslem Brotherhood” party in Egypt has more legitimacy among the population than his regime.

            Saudi Arabia would insists that the clerics to the Mosques that it invested in building or maintaining in Palestine be hired by the wahhabit sect and answering directly to the “fatwas” emanating from the Capital Riad.

 

            The President of Lebanon, Michel Suleiman, has declared yesterday that after the Parliamentary election in June 7 the Dawha agreement will have been satistisfied and the Taef Constitution will be applied: The winning coalition in the parliament will govern and the losers will oppose.  The leader of the Tayyar al Horr (Change and Reform Party), and currently the dominant “Christian” representative in the parliament, General Michel Aoun has been promoting the advent of the Third Republic to replace the governing system imposed on Lebanon since 1993 during the Syrian mandate and after the withdrawal of the Syrian troops in 2005.  The polls favor the opposition (Tayyar, Hezbolah, and Amal) to gaining 65 deputies out of 120. 

Michel Aoun has decided to run in the district of Jezzine (a Christian enclave) with his list of 3 candidates when all the attempts for an agreement with Berri failed.  Berri is the Chairman of the Parliament and the leader of the Shiaa Amal Party that represented the Shiaa during the civil war but was supplanted by Hezbollah.  Berri understands that his weight and standing in the political structure are solely based on heading the parliament and all his machinations are to securing this post that he chaired for over 20 years.

Regardless of the wining coalition, the Taef Agreement will be re-applied in its entirety with various success and time span. For example, a second confessional Partiament of the 19 religious sects will be formed so that the popular Parliament will be elected devoid of sectarianism and hopefully according to a new law based on relative percentages (nisbiyya) and not on majority.

If the Tayyar returns with additional gains into the Parliament then the application of Taef Constitution will accelerate with modification after substantial lapse of time such as providing the President of Republic additional leverage and imposing time constraint on the government (mainly the Prime Minister) to ratifying decision as it is imposed of the President.

In case the Tayyar loses then a dangerous cycle await Lebanon with end results of sharing power not on the basis of 50/50 between the Moslem sects and the Christian sects but on the basis of three major sects, the Shiaa (the most populous), the Sunni, and a combination of the Maronite and Christian Orthodox. 

  1. Lebanon is a precarious State depending on many foreign interests in the Middle East and not specifically for the sake of Lebanon.   In any case, a stable Lebanon is connected with a stable Syria that is satisfied with Lebanon’s foreign administration of relations. The fundamental interests of Syria cannot be circumvented and supersede the USA if Lebanon is to enjoy security and stability.

adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

October 2020
M T W T F S S
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
262728293031  

Blog Stats

  • 1,426,828 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 774 other followers

%d bloggers like this: