Free Patriotic Movement, Lebanon

Michel Aoun & the Eastern Christians

I woke up this morning to be confronted with a flood of articles about the General’s trip to Damascus. Everywhere one looks, it seems, people are tripping over themselves to either claim or contest Aoun’s status as… er, how does one translate za’im masi7iyii al-sharq? The region’s head Christian? The Eastern-Christian-in-chief? Mr. Christianer-than-Thou?

I don’t know about you, but I find all of this talk of “representing the Christians” to be a little bit distasteful, not because I would rather someone else be Mr. Middle Eastern Christian, but simply because the FPM prides itself on taking a stand against sectarianism. How delighted I was, therefore, to read Khaled Saghieh’s excellent editorial in al-Akhbar this morning. In it, he takes aim at Aoun’s silly claims of presumed regional Christian leadership, saying:

“We do not know what this leadership means, nor how Aoun wove the strands of his relations to the Christians among the peoples of the region. What we do know is that Aoun’s rhetoric has experienced a stupendous retreat from the slogans of the civil state in Lebanon, to Christian leadership within it…”

Saghieh says that while he understands that many Lebanese may identify first and foremost with their sect and secondly with their national identity, he wonders whether “the Copts of Egypt or the Christians of Tanja, whom Minister Gebran Bassil [i.e. Aoun’s son-in-law] extols, are really craving for the leadership of General Michel Aoun.” Furthermore, he asks: “Even Syria, which Aoun visits today, would its regime be satisfied with having a leader for its Christians from beyond its borders?”

I can’t help but agree with Saghieh. The last thing the region needs is another sectarian leader. Why not work to dismantle this logic in Lebanon instead of reinforcing it with dubious pretensions?
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4 thoughts on “Michel Aoun & the Eastern Christians

  1. I agree.

    But think of Aoun as a symbol of successful Christian participation in politics. Which other Christian politician in the region is as well known as General Aoun?

    Syria wants Christians of the Levant to play a more prominent role … not to continue immigrating in large numbers.

    Posted by Alex | December 3, 2008, 1:11 pm
  2. My share of Aoun was during my trip to Aleppo last week, he was staying with me at the Sheraton and there were like 100 Syrian and Lebanese intelligence officers in the hotel, making my trip miserable the first 2 days. There were officers on my right, on my left, under my bed, on my breakfast table!! Anyways I don’t how significant his visit was for the Christians of Aleppo, and Im sure he doesnt represent the Christians of the Levant. But hey Lebanon is a pot of Ethnic differenecs, I say sort it first in Lebanon and then seek help abroad. What a mess!

    Posted by Ali | December 14, 2008, 6:06 am


  1. Pingback: News in Brief: 11 December 2008 « Report on Positivity - December 11, 2008

  2. Pingback: Aoun on Kalam al-Nas « Qifa Nabki - March 27, 2009

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