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Posts Tagged ‘daily Al Nahar

Good or bad? A tribute is a tribute: on late Ghassan Tueni

Ghassan Tueni, a famous Lebanese journalist, the owner of the daily Al Nahar (The Day), a politician, a deputy, a minister, a representative to the UN, a board founder of educational institutions…passed away on Friday June 8, 2012. He was 87 years old. And he was a heavy smoker.
For 10 days now, the daily Al Nahar is publishing tributes by hundreds of people. All the tributes published in Al Nahar and other dailies describe a “freedom loving leader” and very dedicated to freedom of expression and…

Tueni joined the Syria Social National Party (SSNP), the Lebanese branch, early on in his youth while the leader Antoun Saadeh was exiled in Argentina.  When Saadeh returned to Lebanon in 1947, he dismissed Tueni and scores of other leading members for transforming the party into a Lebanese party and not representative of the Syrian people (Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, and Iraq).

Tueni published a scathing diatribe of the 24-hour mock trial that ended in the execution of Saadeh by a government of a pseudo-State that tacitly supported the creation of Israel.

Tueini later rejoined the party after Saadeh was executed and was elected deputy as a member of the SSNP in the 50s.

 Ghassan Tueni was sent to jail several times for his outspoken criticism of the performance of various governments in Lebanon.
Ghassan Tueni knew how to recruit talented journalists with different viewpoints. The journalists views were published complete in the daily, but the editorial line of the paper represented Tueni’s current political positions…
Al-Nahar was a leading Lebanese paper in the 1950s, 60s and 1970s, and contributed in the publishing of many valuable cultural periodicals such as “Fekr” (Research opinion) that canalized the free expressions of many intellectuals…

An-Nahar is no longer such a leading free opinion daily: people still think that it remains “leading” to this day…For example, Israeli scholars of the Arab world still cited Al-Hawadith magazine because they still think that it is as popular was it was back in the 1970s.

Tueni mimicked the successful journalistic formula of the US: the use of weekly supplements, the division into sections, the sensational use of pictures on the front page, and the introduction of technology when newspapers were very old-fashioned in the Arab world.

Tueni was mostly able to sustain the preeminence of his daily in Lebanon thanks to the financial support from Gulf countries and from other Western powers during the Cold War.

An-Nahar and its publishing houses were intensely involved in anti-communist propaganda during the Cold War. A book on the cultural Cold War in the Middle East would have a special section about An-Nahar.

Ghassan Tueni was made famous in the world community when he delivered a speech at the UN demanding “let my people live…” during the 17 year-long civil war.

Ghassan Tueni believed that the civil war was instigated and planned by foreign powers, (superpowers and regional powers), though the Lebanese people know that they were and still are dried branches, ready to burn for failure to reform and change their social/political structure since 1943…

A few people are angry for heaping all the good qualities and attributes on Ghassan Tueni.

As’ad AbuKhalil  posted on his blog Angry Corner on June 14 under “Ghassan Tueni: About the Tributes” (with slight editing):

“It is one thing to see the March 14 (Hariri and Saudi-funded) press in Lebanon paying tributes to Ghassan Tueni. But to see Western media talking about him is to be reminded about the extent of propaganda and its disconnection to reality.

When David Ignatius, for example, writes about Ghassan Tueni and his contribution to Arab media, you have to question if he knows what he’s talking about?

How can someone who does not know the language and culture of a region comment on press in that culture?

What is the value of my comments on Chinese media if I don’t know Chinese? That only shows that those are recycling conventional wisdom and established propaganda clichés.

The New York Times carried a glowing obituary of Tueni and singled him out as the most important Arab journalist. Funny, the New York Times even linked him to the “Arab spring” as if anyone in the new Arab generation followed his writings.

Who in Tunisia or Saudi Arabia knows who Ghassan Tueni is?

Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, for example – whether you like it or not – is known and read throughout the Arab world. Tueni never had that stature outside the Near East region.

Abdul-Bari Atwan is another Arab journalist who is known and read throughout the region, particularly due to his Al Jazeera appearances, but Tueni never enjoyed that kind of acclaim.

Sami Moubayed wrote another glowing tribute and claimed that Tueni was courageous about support for “freedom” – even Saddam spoke about the virtues of generic freedom.

Moubayed spoke about the courage of Tueni when the man was never known for his political courage and made peace with whoever dominated Lebanese politics (his son, Jubran was in fact outspoken against the Syrian regime).

For decades Al Nahar exhibited racist anti-Syrian rhetoric. But Western media don’t know better.

Elias Khoury in Al-Quds Al-Arabi even referred to Tueni as “revolutionary”. Various tributes talked about his love of “freedom”.

Yet, George Hawi (late assassinated communist leader) in his book published by Dar An-Nahar put it best: “Tueni supported freedom only when he was out of power, and only occasionally”.

Tueni is the champion of the counter-revolution in the Arab world. He has been aligned with the conservative Arab regional and international order throughout the decades. His paper was part of the propaganda devices of the US during the Cold War.

The paper was successful and effective in the 1960s up to the eruption of the Lebanese civil war in 1975.

Tueni, far from being a courageous critic of regimes, was aligned with successive regimes in Lebanon.

For example, Al-Nahar, under Tueni, praised President Bishara al-Khoury before belatedly joining the opposition, and it remained faithful to the terrible rule of President Camille Chamoun. It was critical of President Fouad Chehab but only on behalf of the right-wing coalition of the Hilf (“the alliance”) in the 1960s.

An-Nahar was aligned with the regime of Elias Sarkis and Tueni had the most influential political role in the administration of Amin Gemayyel – probably one of the worst and most corrupt administrations in contemporary Lebanese history.

People forgot (or pretended to forget) that Tueni served as the overall coordinator of the Lebanese-Israeli negotiations that produced the still-born May 17 Agreement. The paper never raised its voice against the repression of Amin Gemayyel.

When Ghassan’s son, late Jubran (assassinated), took over the paper, it no longer pretended to adhere to the cloak of journalistic objectivity. It became vulgar and sectarian, and played a partisan role in the Lebanese conflict.

Khouri talked about hiring leftists, but it would be more accurate to say that the Tuenis, father and son, only tolerated leftists after they become ex-leftists.

The ideology of the paper was unmasked even during the times of Ghassan. He said so in the book Sirr Al-Mihnah (“Trade Secret”): The three intellectual and political influences in his life were Charles Malek, Camille Chamoun, and Antoun Saadeh.

Malek and Chamoun inspired him all his life and he adhered to their conservative and right-wing agenda in the paper. His long time editor-in-chief, Louis al-Hajj, spoke of the services that the paper rendered to Pierre Gemayyel (founder of the right-wing Phalanges Party) and even revealed the sectarian mindset of the paper.

Tueni played an important political role in Lebanese politics and society. He promoted conservative and right-wing notions and themes under the guise of a liberal bourgeois framework. But he was always cautious politically and his editorials were only daring in favor of this traditional politician against that traditional politician.

In the Arab Cold War, Tueni’s paper earned tremendous financial benefits due to its stance in favor of the anti-communist coalition (Al-Hayat and An-Nahar were the voices of anti-communism and of the Arab regimes of oil and gas).

While the stature and political significance of the paper declined, it continued to do well financially. However, this was only due to a corrupt monopolistic scheme that its Lebanese Forces’ ally, Antoine Choueiri, arranged whereby most revenues from the ad market would end up at the paper at the expense of all other papers in Lebanon.

Tueni left an already insignificant newspaper. An-Nahar belongs to a bygone era. The arena is now taken over by new outlets and publications. But there is no denying that Tueni was influential a very long time ago”. End of As’ad AbuKhalil  post

Ghassan Tueiny shouldered his responsibilities when his dad died and his elder brother died and had to run a daily in young age.

He had a full-life.

He lost his brother. He lost all his three children, the latest was Jubran, assassinated.

He lost his first wife Nadia. He remarried at the age 70… How many of us can claim that we have a life?

Good or bad, a tribute is a tribute for an engaged and active life. Compassion and passionate occasions were plenty to disseminate and flow around…

Ghassan Tueini knew how to lead people and go the extra mile in sustaining a daily and its employees, train journalists and reporters and maintaining Lebanon a base for freedom of expression when dictatorial regimes all around forced their intellectuals to flee to greener pasture for free opinions…

What is this French Academy? Who is Amine Maaluf?

The French Academy (L’ Academie Francaise) for the illustrious literary individuals who wrote in French (regardless of origin, genders, or religious affiliation) was instituted by the Cardinal Richelieu who was the Prime Minister of the monarch Louis 13 in the 16th century.

Among the  pantheon of the literary figures you find, Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Poincare, Alexander Dumas the Son (of African descent), Leopold Cedar Segor (Senegal), Asia Jabbar (Algeria)…Amine Maaluf (Lebanon) was inducted a member two week ago. (He will officially deliver his speech and get the chair, exactly a year later)

Amine Maaluf joined the Lebanese daily Al Nahar at the age of 22 in the foreign section.  He used to bring a book to work and read it hidden under the desk.

Amine undertook trips to Vietnam, Ethiopia, Haiti…to cover events.

You cannot be a successful journalist if you fail to read books everyday!  For example, how could we comprehend the Napoleonic war against Russia if we fail to read “War and Peace” of Tolstoy, or about France if we failed to read Balzac, or about Italy without Luigi Bazetti...?

Amine Maaluf was born in a small village of Lebanon (Ain Kabo) and immigrated to France in 1976, as the civil war in Lebanon set in.  He wrote many books about Lebanon, Iran, the Crusaders, his Origin…

How can we feel the feudal system in Lebanon without “The Boulder of Tanios“, or the century of Omar Khayyam in Iran, or how the Arab viewed the Crusaders at the time, or how the Lebanese immigrated and prospered overseas…

Maaluf earned the French Goncour Prize for “The Boulder of Tanios” (Sakhrat Tanios) and the Spanish Literary Prize.

His productions were translated in over 20 languages.  I read all his books in the original French language (about a dozen books) and reviewed extensively many of them in English, in my blog under “Book Review” category.

Many Lebanese authors wrote in foreign languages and were famous.  For example, Jubran Khalil Jubran “The Prophet” (the highest read in the USA after the Bible), Amine Rihani who corresponded with the New York Times in the 20’s and wrote “Khaled” and many other books, Andre Chedid, George Shehadeh, Salah Stitieh

Note 1: This article was inspired by the article of the Lebanese journalist Samir Attallah, published in the daily Al Nahar (June 29, 2011)

Note 2: This Nov. 10, 2013, Amine presented his latest book during the exhibition of French book production in BIEL (convention place in Beirut), and the President of Lebanon offered him the Medal of Honor during a reception.

Lebanon: You have the right to delete religious affiliation from official documents.  That’s what Mona Fayyad did.

I suggested in a previous article that we have the right, of a recent obscure and neglected law, to applying for the deletion of our religious affiliation from all our official documents, particularly from our personal status document (Ehkraj Kayd).

That is what Mona Fayyad did.

Mona described the procedure as she decided to delete this information from her official documents.  She wrote in the daily Al Nahar, this Friday April 1st, and I doubt it is one of April’s Foul trick:  “I visited the proper department in the ministry of interior.  I submitted the application to two idle employees.  They could not believe their eyes and claimed that no one ever submitted such a request.  They hollered to the remaining employees if anyone know something on the matter.  One employee said that Wafiq is the one specialized in that domain.

Wafiq read the four-page application and was not pleased (I guess he feared official scorn from the department).  Wafiq asked me to ratify my demand from the Mouhktar (elected official of the town) of my hometown and to verify my signature.

I visited the Mohktar and he was not pleased either, but he did his job.  I went back to the “individual status department” and submitted all my documents.  Wafiq demanded two official stamps.  Someone in the office was kind enough to sell me two stamps.  Wafiq told me that the deletion of my religious affiliation will be done in two days.”

We are waiting for Mona confirmation that what was promised is done.

I suggested that the youth movement shoulder a pragmatic program of starting a mass drive, for willing citizens, to officially applying to the deletion of their religious affiliation as registered by the 18 recognized sects.  First step first.

For example, although any person could request that his religion should not be mentioned on an official document, the movement as a force should undertake a campaign of enlisting citizens to changing their official documents.

The Lebanese youth movement for changing the sectarian political system is asked to initiate a practical drive and have thousands of citizens effectively do what they are demanding.  The movement must take the citizens by the hand, literally, and nudge them to the many official steps required.  Vans should be provided, helping filling the application, visiting with mokhtars, buying the stamps, and landing at the proper department.  That what is most urgent doing to get wide visibility and appreciation of the seriousness of the movement.

Let the Mona Fayyad bold and determined step be our guiding rod to victory.

The youth movement should pressure the government and the Parliament to officially generalize and automatically drop religious affiliation from documents, as a law.

The Red Bishop: Abbot Gregory; (Mar. 6, 2010)

The 86 years old Greek Catholic Bishop Gregory Haddad gave this interview, from his rest home in Hadath, to Nicole Tohmeh of the Lebanese daily Al Nahar.

Born in 1924 at Souk El Gharb in Mount Lebanon, Nakhleh Amin Haddad became Bishop of Beirut and sworn the vow of poverty in his appearance and his life style, an attitude that angered main stream bishops of all Christian denominations, on the ground that this Red Bishop is not holding up to his position of “Excellency”.

Iindeed, Bishop Haddad demanded that he be called not even father but abbot or brother Gregory. Why?

Jesus admonished his disciples to refrain accepting masters on earth; thus, since bishops are considered masters and leaders in Lebanon, then the Red Bishop would have none of the tittles to “Your Excellency”

In room 115 at the “Lady (Virgin Mary) House” in the town of Haddath, a suburb of Beirut, Abbot Gregory is in full capacity of mind and hear:; osteoporosis is the culprit for being bed ridden.

Abbot Hadad resumes his activities as usual, meeting activists and intellectuals, reading, and following up on news.  Abbot Gregory instituted the “Social movement” in 1961, which requested of its members to avoid joining political parties, to shun confessionals and isolationist tendencies and to stick to non-violence principles.

The movement grew to 20 branches all over Lebanon from all confessions and professionals; it coordinates activities with other social movements such as Caritas, Imam Mossa Sadr institution, the Middle East Council of Churches, dispensaries, and clubs that are spreading literac. Its budget is about $3 millions and has good contacts with the European Union.

The main figures of the movement meet with Abbot Gregory once a month and discuss programs; this year program is establishing technical schools for children over 12 of age.

For 50 years now, the “Social movement” gathered data on social problems, such as manpower, dispensaries, health, safety, and job opening. It cooperated with Father Lebre who was assigned by late President Fouad Chehab the task of studying and planning Lebanon’s needs for development; President Chehab asked the social movement to aid in health matters.

The Red Bishop says:

Civil marriage is still holy if the two partners have the faith, even if not conducted by the clergy. Secularism is not anathema to religious belief or lack of respect for the clergy as it was practiced during the French Revolution.  Modern secularism proclaims independence between faith and society activities; an individual should be free in his belief system.  You may work within society and be atheist. You can hold your ground without usurping or suppressing your neighbor’s belief system.  There is multiplicity of cults and they are mushrooming fast around the world but this should not be a problem; there is this saying “What make most noise in a caldron are the bones”.

There is no absolute truth. Secularism means total neutrality with respect to individual systems of beliefs.  Lebanon made a step forward last year by erasing “religious status” on the ID. Religious hierarchy and political leaders in Lebanon are against a secular State because it is not to their advantages politically and their power base. It is not your religion that recognizes your humanity and dignity in society.

Thus, when the overwhelming individuals start to have confidence in their intrinsic human rights, secularism will set roots.  Islam didn’t start as a religion combining earthly and spiritual powers: it is the succeeding leaders that found it convenient to combine the two powers.  The Koran says: “You have your religion and I have mine”; thus, religion is different from faith.  Man is God on earth.

The communist party worked a lot with the “Social Movement” and they coordinated activities during the civil war.  Abbot Gregory was labeled “The Red Bishop” and lambasted as leftist and Palestinian lover in order to discredit the movement and its secular demands and activities for a modern and equitable Lebanon.

Abbot Gregory said “Those who fought me didn’t do it out of malice; crossing to secular mentality from confessional political base is hard and requires a change in life thinking and behavior to comprehend its benefits”




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