Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Cyprus

Married couples got to pay the clergy institutions

Not happy about having to travel to Cyprus to get a civil marriage?

Last year, Lebanese couples applied an ancient law, from the French mandated period, which remained on the Books, in order to carry out civil marriage.

All they had to do is to demand that their religion be scraped from their civil records.

Lebanon’s justice minister may have an answer for modern couples to marry civilly and keep their religion on the civil records.

On Jan. 29, 2014, Shakib Qortbawi introduced a draft law that would allow couples in Lebanon to marry under a civil law, without leaving the country, or having to cross out their religion on their civil records.

With the obligation to pay about $350 for the clergy institutions in order to recoup the lost profit.

Paying the clergy is not the way to go. And it is too late, Mr. minister

Nadim Houry published in The daily Sta this feb. 7, 2014:

 

The draft law would not introduce a Lebanese civil code.

Rather, it would allow couples to choose any foreign civil law by which to marry, as long as the law does not contradict “public order and general morals.”

But there’s a catch: Each couple would have to pay the state the equivalent of $333 to be disbursed to the religious courts of the husband’s religion.

Is this draft law a step forward for supporters of civil marriage in Lebanon?

Should advocates of civil marriage go along with the payment of such a fee to religious courts to get the religious official bodies to agree to the proposal?

It is important to first understand how civil marriage currently works in Lebanon.

The law currently recognizes such marriages even though the country does not have a civil code.

Until recently, this has meant that anyone who wished to have a civil marriage would have to travel abroad to marry and get their foreign-enacted civil marriage recognized in Lebanon.

Lebanese have resorted to such foreign civil marriages in large numbers, with data from the Cypriot Embassy in Lebanon indicating that more than 800 Lebanese couples married in Cyprus in 2011.

When I got married in Cyprus in 2009, the couples that were married before and after us in the office of the Cypriot public official were Lebanese.

Despite the increasing popularity of civil marriages enacted abroad, this approach has limitations.

Traveling abroad is inconvenient and some couples cannot afford the trip. And many people are unaware that if both spouses are Muslim, Lebanese Islamic courts may not recognize the civil marriage and may apply their own rules in divorce or child custody cases based on a 1939 official decree.

In a breakthrough for civil marriage in Lebanon in February 2013, the Lebanese authorities approved the registration of a civil marriage contracted in Lebanon between Kholoud Succariyeh and Nidal Darwish after the couple removed their religious affiliation from their civil records.

This couple, acting on the advice of a longtime activist for civil marriage, argued that by removing their religious affiliations from their civil records, they had the right under Lebanese law to a civil marriage and that Lebanon’s failure to enact such a law did not revoke that right.

The couple notarized their marriage before a Lebanese public notary and chose to have it governed by French civil law. The Lebanese authorities recognized the validity of their legal reasoning and registered the marriage.

More couples have now removed their religious affiliations from their civil records and filed to have their locally enacted marriage contract recognized in Lebanon.

Qortbawi’s draft law seeks to allow couples to marry in Lebanon using a foreign civil code of their choice without removing their religious affiliations from their civil records, as Succariyeh and Darwish had to. The draft law would also repeal the 1939 decree that limits the ability of two Muslims to have a civil marriage in Lebanon.

The draft’s main shortcoming is that it fails to introduce an optional civil personal status code for Lebanon that would cover marriage, divorce, custody and other family law provisions.

Activists and civil society organizations have long demanded this, in part because of the systematic discrimination against women in all of Lebanon’s religious personal-status laws.

In fact, a draft code proposed by local civil society groups has been sitting in parliament since March 2011.

In statements to the media, Qortbawi recognized the inherent limitations of his proposal, but argued that in the “current atmosphere in the country, it was not possible to put forward a complete package for civil marriage.”

The minister’s remark raises a question relevant to reform attempts from electoral law to women’s rights.

Given the dysfunctional nature of politics in the country today, should reformists restrict their ambitions to partial and imperfect advances that appear feasible?

There is no evident answer to that question and reasonable people can disagree in their assessments.

My own view is that when it comes to civil marriage in Lebanon – a recurring idea since at least 1951, when the Beirut Bar Association went on strike to demand an optional civil marriage law – the time has come for a concerted push to adopt an optional Lebanese civil personal status code.

If anything, there is an urgent need to counter the country’s sectarianism by enacting laws such as the civil code that would treat all Lebanese equally.

Regardless of one’s position about the best strategy to advance civil marriage in Lebanon, what to make of the proposal in the draft law that the state collect a $333 marriage fee and give it to the religious courts of the husband’s confession – unless the husband is not Lebanese, in which case the fee goes to the religious court of the wife’s confession?

The draft law does not explain the rationale for such a payment.

In a recent media interview, Qortbawi said, “It’s not our job to cut everything from them [the religious courts], because also, they need money. This is to tell them, ‘This is not against you.’

But we should reject payments to sweeten the deal for religious courts.

Religious courts in Lebanon already get a great deal of support from the state, with little or no oversight from the state’s judicial bodies.

For instance, Lebanese citizens already pay the budget of Islamic courts – a tradition going back to the Ottoman times – with no effective government supervision.

The reason many Lebanese say they support civil marriage is to reduce the influence of religious institutions on their lives, to promote equality among Lebanese citizens and to eliminate discrimination against women under the current religious personal status codes.

For many Lebanese couples, the choice to seek a civil marriage is a way to reject the imposition of religious laws and institutions by Lebanon’s confessional system.

So why would a law meant to facilitate civil marriage actually fund religious courts, instead of the civil courts that will oversee such civil marriages?

These civil courts are grossly underfunded, and their workload will presumably increase as a result of additional civil marriages.

The minister may be right that Lebanon needs to take gradual steps to enact a civil law. But these gradual steps should be guided by a clear strategy of building up civil institutions and promoting equality among Lebanese citizens.

To ask the Lebanese to pay religious courts for the right to a civil marriage will not bring us closer to those goals.

Nadim Houry is head of the Beirut office of Human Rights Watch and is its deputy Middle East and North Africa director. He wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR.

     

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 07, 2014, on page 7.

Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Opinion/Commentary/2014/Feb-07/246619-paying-the-clergy-is-not-the-way-to-go.ashx#ixzz2sd7tUND7
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)

Sex markets and trades; (Mar. 19, 2010)

            Thailand is the prime sex tourist attraction.  About 15 millions flood the Capital Bangkok every year.  Many girls are connected by internet to their favorite regular tourists who visit yearly for a two-week vacation: one week with the girl (who consider this period as vacation time on beaches, all expense paid) and another week for touring Thailand. It is estimated that over 3 millions in Thailand practice sex business, supposedly with the consent of their folks to feed the remaining members of the family. The government enacted laws proclaiming sex business as illegal; it had completely forgotten this law: this particular tourist appeal generates 14% of GNP.

            The American soldiers fighting in Vietnam and Cambodia targeted Bangkok for relaxation breaks and then opened bars and sex businesses. After the war in Vietnam, ex-soldiers resumed their preferred tourist activities to their accustomed destination. Obviously, drug trade was a major catalyst for targeting Bangkok.

            The next destination for the northern Europe and England hard working population is the Capital Riga of Latvia. Every weekend, dozens of charter planes at low cost land in Riga for a relaxing time. Morocco is the favorite destination for southern Europe.

            As for the sources of the human sex pool it is the new Republics of former Soviet Union and Africa. Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldavia are prime sources for the mafias in that trade. For example, Moldavia insures the availability of 10,000 sex slaves a year; the slaves principally land in the city of Antalia in Turkey and then to Europe; Cyprus used to be the first landing location of these girls, who had secured due legitimate papers for other jobs; but the law in Cyprus required medical check up on contagious diseases; thus the mafias shifted the target location to Turkey;  Cyprus has now cancelled this requirement: it cannot afford to lose a large proportion of its 7 millions tourists.

            Sex slave business mafias have reformed their techniques in hiring slave sex to circumvent tighter regulations. Currently, the mafias promise a sex slave freedom, after working several years in abject conditions, by luring and expediting fresh replacements.  At first, the girl is promised freedom for hiring one replacement and then this number is increased gradually for one reason or another. The replacing girls know that the final job is sex but are never aware of the conditions of the work as slaves; they work non-stop and barely have time to feed and sleep. As the fresh slave girl board the plane then the doors are shut on her freedom; when she reaches destination she is gang raped, beaten and humiliated to give her the proper taste of what to expect.

            Nigeria and Cameroon are the main African sources of sex slaves.  In Nigeria, mafias organize witch ceremonies for the hired girls called “Djudju” where the girl promises complete secrecy on the bosses and organization.  Many mafias set up faked “Queen Beauty contests” and then photos are taken in bikini and brochures are sent to select rich elite customers; first the girls are sent to work in hotels and bars and then are coerced to upgrade into sex business.

            There are 400,000 whores in Germany and as many in Spain; 85,000 in England and as many in Italy; 20,000 in Holland and as many in France. Over 80% of the whores are foreigners from Romania, Bulgaria, and Africa.  Sex slave charges between 300 and 400 in developed European States while it cost between 30 to 50 in their home States.

            Many European States have tried alternative approaches to cut down on sex trades.  Holland enacted laws to legalize this business as long as the sex provider applies legally. Unfortunately, only 4% opted to formally legalize their trade.  Sweden has proven to have the most efficacious method: apprehending the customers for illegal activities.

Orthodox Jews in Israel: Back to the Dark Ages; (October 13, 2009)

 

            The Jewish Agency, supported by the Israeli government, has launched in September a campaign to “sensibilize” Jews in the Diaspora of the risk of mix marriages; Jews were contacted via Facebook.com to refrain from processes of assimilation in their home countries.

            What do you think a Jewish Orthodox widow should do after the requisite time of mourning?  Well, she is supposed to quickly marry her brother-in-law according to the religious Jewish laws.  In case either party is not satisfied with this regulation then a “halitza” ceremony is undertaken so that the widow would spit on the shoes of the brother-in-law and then pay him a sum of money.  Otherwise, the honor of the tribe is injured and lineage of the male is at risk. An interrogated rabbi said: “This ceremony is basically destined to humiliate the brother-in-law and to punish the widow”.  This custom has not been abolished and is practiced daily amid the Orthodox Jews. This story in Shomer Masakh was transmitted by the Israeli Channel 10.

            In Lebanon, marrying in another religious sect sends the couple to Cyprus for a civil wedding to be later acknowledge by the government. Flying to Cyprus to get married is done In Israel with a twist; if one partner is not an Orthodox Jew then the couple has to go to Cyprus.  Well, yes, there are the Orthodox Jews, the reformist or liberal Jews (mostly French speaking Jews), and the conservative or traditional Jews (mostly USA and Eastern European Jews). Don’t ask me on details but you may fill me in with your comments.

            In Lebanon, only the Sunni Mufti is paid by the government (a continuation of the Ottoman period).  In Israel, all three thousand Orthodox rabbis are paid by the government.

            In Lebanon we don’t have a ministry of religious affairs though we have 18 recognized sects legally running the civil status of the citizens from birth to death.  Israel had always had a ministry for the Orthodox Jews since its creation in 1948.  This religious ministry has a substantial budget of over 100 million dollars; 500 religious building were erected exclusively for the Orthodox Jews; the other Jews have no access to these facilities.  Actually, if an Orthodox woman is being married by a non Orthodox rabbi then she is denied the visit of her hometown mikveh (Temple).

            The Orthodox Jews constitute only 20% of the Israeli citizens but they have large political and financial leverages.  This powerful minority pressure many other ministries such as Education, Construction, Housing, national infrastructure, and Defense to pay their dues to the Orthodox communities.

            The Orthodox Jew has the right not to participate in the military service if he chose to; why should he? Why should any Israeli serve three years in the army and then be summoned every year to serve an entire month as a reservist?  Why the Israeli should participate in all the pre-emptive wars just to enrich the military infrastructure and inflate the Defense budget?  Why the Israeli is forced to be a low paid mercenary for the western powers’ interests?

 

Note: This topic is an extract of an article in Yediot Aharonot, an Israeli daily.  If you have other examples, send them in.

The Third Republic of Lebanon: The Tayyar of Michel Aoun (June 1, 2009)

 

            The formal and extensive visits of Michel Aoun to Iran and then to Syria had three purposes.  First, it was symbolic of “breaking bread and sharing salt” which meant that confidence is established and hidden agendas will be stated clearly among friends. The second purpose was to focus attention on the ethnic and religious minorities so that Iran and Syria would exercise more leverage to preserving the persecuted minorities in Iraq. The third purpose was to exposing the draft program of the Third Republic that need to be instituted in Lebanon in order to relieve Iran and Syria from constant worries on the potential political and strategic orientation of Lebanon; thus, relying on Iran and Syria to exercise their influence toward stabilizing an environment of security and peace within Lebanon.

            General and Deputy Aoun had absorbed the various failures of other Christian Lebanese leaders for establishing a lasting stable political system that would save Lebanon of recurring civil wars.  A unified Christian front in Lebanon is not enough to bringing peace and security; this fact Michel Aoun experienced when he was appointed Prime Minister in 1988 and ended in his exile to France.  The most striking recent experiment was the tenure of ex-President Emile Lahoud.

            Lahoud intended to eradicate corruption in the State while maintaining strategic relations with Syria and supporting the Lebanese resistance in the south against Israel’s occupation.  Lahoud failed in his attempts for reforms of the social and political system because he had no civilian political movement and had no previous communication with the deputies in the Parliament.  Lahoud managed to press forward on the corruption front in the first 3 years until Syria realized that the reforms were going too far and driving its Lebanese political supporters to frantic seizures. The incarcerated officials indicted with corruption and stealing the treasury were released from prison and Rafic Hariri returned as Prime Minister to resume his service and real estate economy based on heavy borrowing.

As Syria was under pressure in 2005 to withdraw its troops then it decided to extend the tenure of Lahoud another 3 years.  The UN resolution 1559 for Syria withdrawal, the Lebanese army to expand to the southern borders, and Hezbollah to turn over its heavy artillery to the army pointed to a dramatic clash which culminated in the assassination of Rafic Hariri.  External interventions bolstered the internal confessional forces to side track reforms and forced the Presidency into a defensive corner; thus, not only clipping any remnant of official power but eliminating the role of the Presidency and the Christian necessity for a stable Lebanon among its religious affiliations.

 

What is the Third Republic and what is its strategy? First, the new Republic will bolster the rights, duties, and responsibilities of the President of the Republic and reduce the exclusive privileges of the Prime Minister to administering several “black boxes” such as emergency funds, development and construction council, repatriation of Lebanese refugees’ box, and disaster box that should be returned to the relevant ministries.  These reforms do not require any amendments to the Taef Constitution.

 

Second, the Third Republic wants to desist on reducing the economy of Lebanon to the service sector that it can no longer compete with newer and powerful centers in the region like Dubai, Cyprus, Jordan, and Egypt.  The economy has to revert to basics and develop on industrial and agricultural production, exploiting our water resources, managing better our electrical power generation, and expanding and modernizing our communication facilities. Health for all and education for all at affordable costs are priorities.

 

Third, the reduction of our heavy borrowing policy that reached over 60 billions dollars with the purpose of settling the Palestinians in Lebanon in return of canceling this mighty debt will be tackled in earnest.  I lean to the possibility that if negotiations with the lending parties are not successful then the new government will decree the cancellation of any lending that was politically motivated.  I doubt that reactions would extend beyond the rhetorical recriminations because the case is strong that Lebanon had no collateral economical generation potentials for these generous lending.  As a consequence, the Third Republic will put an end to any international policies attempts to reside the Palestinians in Lebanon.

 

Fourth, the Third Republic will relieve Hezbollah from the constant pressures of international plans targeted at coercing the disarmament of the resistance by coordinate activities with non-patriotic governments that are wiling to cohabitate with the enemy Israel.  This united front will force Israel to desist from any further incursions into Lebanon.

 

Fifth, the Third Republic will move ahead with an alternative election law based on proportionality and revisiting laws that deny equality between genders and secular national civil status laws.

 

Sixth, the Third Republic will demand joint negotiations with Syria relative peace agreements with Israel after recapturing the Shebaa Farms and the Hills of Kfarshouba.

 

The first step in the strategy was for the Christians to regain confidence and stand up to their responsibilities and acknowledging that Israel is the enemy.  This was done.  The second step was an alliance with Hezbollah which defeated many plans to resurrect the specter of the civil war.  The third step was direct contacts with States as representing the largest Christian Parliamentary bloc and opening channels of communications and entente.  The fourth step is wining the majority seats in the Parliament.

 

Lebanon Parliament was expanded in 1992 to include 128 deputies; 64 Christians and 64 Moslems.  The election in June 7 is calling on 3, 260,000 voters to participate and most probably more than 50% will effectively vote. Among the eligible voters of over 21 years of age 888,000 are Moslem Shiaas (27 deputies in total), 874,000 Moslem Sunnis (27 deputies), 698,000 Christian Maronites (34 deputies), 243,000 Christian Greek Orthodox (concentrated in the districts of Ashrafieh and Koura), 186, 000 Moslem Druze (8 deputies concentrated in the districts of Chouf, Aley, and Hasbaya), 163, 000 Greek Catholics, and dozen of other Christian minorities and Armenians (concentrated in Ashrafieh, Burj Hammoud, and Anjar).  The Moslem Alawis of about 27,000 are entitled to 2 deputies.

            In the previous election of 2005, the Tayyar of Michel Aoun without the support of any alliances managed to secure 20 Christian deputies representing 70% of the Christian voters but the Lebanese political system denied this large bloc any governmental representation for 4 years until the Dawha agreement.  The law of this election that correspond to the law of 1960 divides Lebanon into 26 districts called “Kada2” and most of the Christians candidates do not have to rely on Moslem voters for their election.  With the alliance of the “Marada Party” of Suleiman Frangieh in Zghorta, Betroun, and Koura the Tayyar can secure additional 8 deputies.  With the alliance of the Hezbollah the Tayyar can add 3 deputies in the district of B3abda and two more in Jezzine. Thus, if the Tayyar of Michel Aoun sustains the previous election victory then he should expect no less than 27 deputies and over 40 Christian deputies allied to the Tayyar or one third of the Parliament. If we add to this Christian bloc the deputies of Hezbollah and AMAL (over 24 deputies) and the Syrian National Social Party (about 4 deputies) and the Druze and Sunni deputies then the opposition will clearly win the majority of the Parliament.  Thus the Prime Minister will be selected from the opposition and most of the key ministerial posts would revert to the opposition along with a reshuffling of the main first order administrative officials.

 

            The Tayyar is taking the shape of a popular revolution intended to defeating the privileges of the feudal, caste, confessional, and monopolist system. It has no alternative but to follow the legitimate democratic route under this complex social diversity.

 

            As I mentioned in another post, if the Christians do not emerge in this election with a unified and powerful centralized bloc then the chances are that a system based on splitting power among Shiaa, Sunni, and Christians (muthalateh) would be inevitable, even at the expense of a short civil war.  Most probably the civil war would start between Shiaas and Sunnis but will quickly degenerate to fighting between Christians and Sunnis because the Shiaas have already their cantons. This alternative system would be legitimate demographically and the Christian would contend with third of the administration and political power offices.

 

Note 1: My spirit went to statesman General Aoun who said once the Syrian troops crossed the borders in April 2005 “Syria is now out of Lebanon.  I have no qualms with Syria anymore. This is the time to open a new page in our relations”.  The Tayyar has a TV channel and a blog; it has established a radio channe a couple of days ago; but I am under the impression that, excluding the members of the Tayyar, the supporters are on the one way communication receiving end. The brochure of the program of the Tayyar has no phone numbers, no email addresses and no central mailing address. I once sent a hand written letter to Deputy Ibrahim Kanaan and it had to go through two intermediaries of the Tayyar; obviously, I never received a reply. 

 

Note 2: I am suggesting to the Tayyar to install central mediating centers in each district so that deputies would handle the various complaints from their respective constituencies, sort of “wassit al kada2”.

No more Caches for Fiscal Evaders (March 27, 2009)

The financial havoc has generated another capital consequence.

All these tiny islands and tiny States that were the heavens of offshore companies where money were stashed away to avoid taxes are no longer safe havens.

The safe heavens were pressured to enact laws that permit any State government to investigate accounts that were immune under “banking secrecy regulations“.

There are five main regions were these safe heavens concentrated their activities.

First, the Caribbean islands of about 14 of them, singly or set of smaller islands, are: Turks, Caicos, Anguilla, and Montserrat (controlled by Britain), then Virgin Islands (controlled by the USA, then Aruba and Antilles (controlled by the Netherlands, then the Bahamas, Caimans, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominic, Sainte Lucie, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Grenada, Panama City, and Belize.

Second, in Europe we got the city of Andorra, Austria, Belgium, Isle of Man, Isles of Guernsey and Jersey, Gibraltar, Monaco, Saint Marin, Liechtenstein, Luxemburg, Cyprus, and Switzerland.

Third, in the Far East we have: Tonga, Vanuatu, Cook Islands, Niue, Samoa, Nauru, Marshall Islands, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Fourth, in the Arab Gulf we have: Dubai and Bahrain.

Fifth, in East Africa we have: Maurice, Seychelles Republic, Maldives, and then Liberia in West Africa.

For example, the Caribbean islands and particularly the Caimans has residency for 70% of hedge funds and manage about 2 $ trillion or 2,000 billions; Jersey Island is the prime British offshore center and managing 300 billions; Liechtenstein with 165 billions; Switzerland with two trillions of offshore money or the third of the world’s caches and which generate a third of the State’s income. The safe havens in the Virgin Islands are mostly invested in China.

Now most of these safe havens are in the process of regulating their financial activities because most States want the money of their citizens repatriated in order to be taxed.

The problem is that the fiscal laws in most States are so exorbitant and complicated that it is not worth repatriating any money. People are just waiting for lenient and simple fiscal laws to be enacted before they get the courage to transfer their money to their home states.

For example, taking into account penalties on bad faith (40%), interests in arrears, tax on revenue, social contribution and other rights and penalties a French citizen having one million dollars in Switzerland should expect to pay 1,300,000 dollars, far more than what he has saved in the safe haven.

France has evaluated to 20 billions dollars of lost revenue is fiscal fraud, which amount to the total budget for the department of Research and higher Education.

The case of Switzerland banking secrecy laws started in 1934. In 1932, France confiscated from the Commercial Bank of Bale ten books containing 2000 French clients; the socialist deputy Fabien Albertin divulged the names of the clients representing a wide spectrum of influential personalities from magistrates, to ministers, to deputies, and to bishops. The State of Switzerland reacted.

Only in 1998 did the wall of banking secrecy fall in Switzerland when the US exercised pressures to recoup 1.25 billions dollars saved by Jewish families during the Nazi period.

There are four criteria to categorize a State as a fiscal paradise:

First, absence or lack of fiscal laws;

second, lack of transparency;

third, the economy cannot support that much funds (basically, a post office State); and

fourth, refusal to exchange judicial and fiscal information.

Who are we, the inhabitants of the Mediterranean Sea shores? (March 1, 2008)

I have this theory, backed by historical accounts and substantiated by archaeological and ontological finding, that the Near East has been the crossroad for the innumerable waves of immigration from East to West and to a lesser extent from Eastern Africa via Egypt.

This is a valid hypothesis that could be adopted as an alternative direction and guide to studying our people.

I consider the first premise that most locations had their own indigents for various reasons going far back to thousands of years. This premise is only just, logical and convenient.

I also offer the second premise that emigrants prefer moving toward areas with abundance of water and greener pastures. The successive waves of immigration have started in full bloom before the 7th millennial of our calendar.

 People from Central Asia tended to march towards Northern Iran and the Turkey Anatolian plateau rich in rivers and water reserves from the melting of snow covered mountains.

The populations in Iran were inclined to settle the shores of the great Tigris River (Dujlah) in Iraq. From there they forked either south along the mighty river or northward.

Moving south was initially the preferred route because the climate is warmer and because it is almost impossible to navigate upward the Tigris River in its northern section.  They settled and built the ancient and mighty Empires around Ur and Basra on the mouth of the Tigris River that empties in the Arabic Gulf and then they expanded along the Arabian Gulf shores; these ancient Empires constituted the trading centers from the Arabian Gulf to the coasts of the Western Indian Ocean.

The Prophet Abraham is said to have moved out with his tribe from the great city of Ur toward greener pastures and most probably south-west along the Red Sea coast. Later, the mighty Empire of Babylon based its capital further north of Ur on the Tigris River.

Aramaic was the main mother language with various dialects for each region because Iraq was the hotbed of civilization for over 4 millennial before Christ, starting by the kingdoms of Sumer, Akad, Babylonia and Ashur.

All the regions from Iran, Kurdistan, the Arabic peninsula, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and the western part of Turkey were under the hegemony of either one of these empires; the main religion and Gods, and the same manner of trading and doing business and administrations were homogeneous.

Moving north the Tigris River the hardy immigrants settled and built mighty Empires like Assyria in Nineveh (Ninawa) around Mosul and in the current Kurdish homeland.

Those immigrants who moved north the river overflowed to the Anatolian Plateaus in Turkey and settled along the mighty Euphrates River (Al Furat) and built the Hittite Empire that discovered iron and invaded Egypt, where they were called the Hyksos, and settled there for a long time until they signed a peace treaty with Ramses II.

It is known that prosperous Troy was vanquished by the Greeks, after ten years of siege, because the Hittite Empire was endeavoring at that junction to reach the sea and thus aided the Greek invaders to destroy their natural enemy.  The more recent power coming from the Anatolian plateau that conquered the Middle East is the Ottoman Empire.

The waves of immigration descended along the Euphrates River and jointed the Oronte River (Al Assy) and built many cities along these rivers and many reached the Mediterranean Sea.

It is known that the Oronte and Euphrates shores were studded with numerous large and prosperous cities like Homs, Hama, Tel Amarna, Van, and Mary because it was the preferred land trade route towards Iraq, Persia and ultimately China.

The alternative more direct route was through the Syrian Desert passing by Palmyra (Tadmor) but it was way too harsh and inconvenient.

Actually, almost all invasions coming from further East and North used this corridor to loot and conquer Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and ultimately Egypt. All these immigrants might have initially fled from persecutions and tribal warfare and also because of changing weather conditions and draughts.

The waves coming from Eastern Africa settled first in Egypt and fled for many reasons to the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea toward the Maghreb regions and also to the eastern shores and settled in the sea cities of Canaan that includes Palestine, and Lebanon.

A large number had to emigrate very often from the cities of Canaan after repeated invasions of the Moguls, Persian, Iraqi, and Egyptian Empires; these Empires made it a routine to invade and loot the rich Canaan cities for their accumulated treasures and for their skilled workers.

All these immigrants ended up in Syria and the eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea of Canaan and some settled in Egypt.

The ancient city of Byblos extended its civilization and built the cities of Sidon and Beirut and other sea towns and invented a new alphabet of 22 letters.  Sidon built Tyr and Akka.

As the Empires in Iraq, Persia, and Egypt invaded these cities the settled inhabitants of these prosperous seashore cities had to immigrate again to the southern and western shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

They built trading posts all around this sea promoting commerce and exercising their own brand of beliefs and traditions. Tyr, under Elissa, simultaneously built Carthage in Tunisia and Cadis (Cadesh) in Spain, thus controlling the entrance to the Atlantic Ocean.

Carthage aimed for a higher level of trade by taking hold of the strategic isthmuses in the Mediterranean Sea such as Messina, Sicily and the strait of Gibraltar that leads to Portugal, Britain and Ireland so that no maritime commerce could be undertaken without landing in one of their “contoires” or trading posts. Carthage then conquered most of the islands like Sardinia, Corsica, Cyprus, and Sicily and settled in southern Spain.

The Phoenicians dominated all the Mediterranean Sea trade for over one thousand years.  The maritime power of their Greek competitor had been destroyed by invasions coming from the north and left the Phoenicians masters of the sea.  The barons of this tertiary industry or the commissioning of maritime and even land transports of goods from one producing country to consuming countries were located in either Tyr or Sidon.

These barons hired rammers and soldiers and workers from all over the region and had also their own sophisticated depots and handled the transactions from beginning to end and exported contracting jobs and skilled workers.  The main Phoenician cities, and especially Tyr and Sidon, concentrated on the secondary industries where semi finished goods were transformed into quality products.

The Phoenicians applied the current colonial trade strategies thousands of years ago without the backing of indigenous military power such as the Greek and especially the Roman Empires.

It is worth mentioning that the Canaanite entrepreneurs didn’t focus much on the artistic part in their culture or in their constructions during periods of autonomy but lavished their ingenuity when they were under the domination of powerful Empires so that they could rely on “State funding” for great and beautiful monuments.

The Arab Islamic conquest of this region didn’t contribute much in the numbers of immigrants since the Arabian Peninsula was scarcely populated and the glory of this Empire in the sciences, medicine and the translation of ancient cultures were rooted first on the scholars in Syria and Lebanon during the Umayyad dynasty, then the Persians during the Abbasid dynasty and the various dynasties that ruled Spain and mainly Andalusia.

Thus, the main inhabitants of northern Africa, Spain, the southern parts of France and Italy and the eastern countries of the Mediterranean Sea are essentially immigrants from Central Asia, Iran, East Africa and Egypt after having settled in Canaan for several centuries.  

The wave of immigration were East to West except in few periods were the skilled workers were transferred under duress by conquering Monarchs to build new emerging capitals by the Babylonians, Assyrians, Persians, and Genkis Khan the Mogul.

I tend to consider that the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea that includes Greece and northern Turkey were mostly immigration waves coming from Eastern Europe but the culture, the religions, and the trades were mainly the endeavors of the Canaan’s population, of which the Phoenicians are the famously known mariners and comprador traders.

The current Christian residents of Mount Lebanon are a mixture of two big waves of immigration: 

The first wave occurred after the conclave of Nicee in 325.  In that epoch, the new friend of the Christians, Emperor Constantine, who lived as a pagan most of his life summoned to the conclave all the bishops.   This major event transformed drastically the Christian doctrine and dogma as well as the church institution.

The conclave decided by a slight majority to confer divine nature to Jesus, declared his mother Mary a virgin, selected only four Books to represent the New Testament as orthodox and banished the hundreds alternative versions that were available at the time and banished women from the clergy institution and ordered the bishops to done luxurious attire and then gradually introduced the pagan symbols to lure in the pagans to the newly adopted religion and gave the pagan festivities Christian meanings and connotations.

Most of the so-called heretic Christian sects that were comfortable with the temporal nature of Jesus and Mary and had their selected preferred versions of the New Testament had to flee persecutions to inaccessible mountains.  Those living in Turkey moved to the Anatolian Plateau, Kurdistan, Armenia and the Caucasus and those in Syria and Palestine moved to Mount Lebanon.

The second major modern wave of immigration occurred since the Mameluks dynasties came to power in Egypt.  The Mameluk Empire had dislodged the last remaining Crusaders’ strongholds and stopped the drive of the Mogul invasion in Palestine. I believe that the new fundamentalist converts to Islam in Central Asia and Kurdistan, the regions of which the Mameluks originated from, exercised great zeal to chasing out the numerous Christian sects.  Mount Lebanon was a refuge for these Christian immigrants and the archeological finds show that women wore multi layers of colorful dresses as currently wore in these remote regions. 

This natural Nation, comprised of the current States of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Palestine, is self-contained; self sufficient and well delimited by natural borders but was never able to constitute an independent political entity in modern time.

This natural Nation by any criteria of what define a Nation simply was opened to the expansion of far more populous Nations under highly centralized governments on all its borders and because it proved to be a major crossroad for immigration westward.  It is the case even today at a more accelerated pace after the US invasion of Iraq and the strategic plan of the US to controlling the Greater Middle East in a Pax Americana.

Note: Before the Arab hegemony that started in around the year 640 almost all the family names and cities were Aramaic or having Aramaic roots.  The fourth caliph, Imam Ali, once wrote that his ancestors before “Kusai” had Aramaic names and that his tribe Kuraich (an Aramaic name) came from “Kawssa” nearby current Kufa in Iraq.

The Aramaic language survived the Persian, Hellenistic, and Roman periods until way into the Arabic period.  The Arab language, the language of the Koran, is basically a branch of Aramaic and the spoken Arab is a dialect. It is well known that Christ spoke Aramaic and before Jesus died on the crucifix he addressed his God Eely for abandoning him to his destiny.

Eel was the name of the Aramaic God and not Jehovah, a tribal God, of the strict Jews in Judea. The Koran uses an Aramaic root for Eel such as Elle and Allah.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

July 2020
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