(The leader of the Free Patriotic Movement, Minister Gebran Bassil expressed his thoughts and concerns about his beloved country and the struggle (of the new era led by President Aoun) to revive it after years of corruption. In an article published in the daily “Al-Nahar” at the beginning of this Holy Week, Bassil addressed all Lebanese living in Lebanon as well as expatriates and explained the importance of a new electoral law. He also promised them against all odds a bright future for Lebanon. Here is the English version of the Arabic article.)
The Law of Freedom
I was thinking throughout my tour of the Lebanese communities in Australia and New Zealand about the reason for which our grandfathers came across the seas, more than 130 years ago to this continent more than 12000 km away, and my only explanation was “they were Lebanese” with all that this statement holds in terms of adventure and success and uniqueness and longing for an honorable life.
And on my way back to Beirut, and as I read through my files, I found the clear answer in a letter my great grandfather sent to the minister S.O. Paul in Oakland, New Zealand in which he says to him “we have come to this land so we may enjoy our freedom and be treated as human beings.”
I went on to ask myself if my grandfather left Lebanon before the year 1890 when he was only 14 thirsting for freedom and had returned to it, and if I was struggling in Lebanon with my compatriots trying to preserve freedom in all its forms, so what do we have to do for our children in order to keep them in Lebanon?
Freedom! it is the value that the Lebanese has created back then a homeland of 10452 km2, and chose to live within its plenty, able to choose at any time a far away country, or an island or even a rock; or a prison, or an exile, or even a coffin to live within its shadow.
What our ancestors have presented us in terms of freedom is their spread across the world, so is too much for us to give our children a law that preserves their freedom across the surface of Lebanon and the world?
We are struggling today in the electoral law for the ” freedom of humanity” assumed to be equal, and the problem, in what concerns us, is not the proportionality in it, for we were the first ones to demand it and still demands it, but the argument is about the meaning of proportionality in the context of freedom, and the consensus in its translation. As well as if the discussion assumes that the freedom is absolute or not, and the proportionality in the freedom renders it segmented and lacking, then it can absolutely not have any discretionary part because it then becomes more than lacking, rather missing in its role, its existence, its covenant.
The issue now is not the idea of a law or suggestions for it, for we have presented numerous ones, and we are capable of many more, but rather about the thought of Lebanon and the freedoms of the equal people in it, and whether one wants to limit it…or overtake it.
So every time we suggest a law with clear and precise measures, and we near the absolute freedom and presumed that we had reached an agreement over it, the thought of “appropriation” arises to discard offer after offer… seizure within a sect or religion, within a region or a qualifier.
Which begs the question: “Is Lebanon the land of “acceptance of the other” or “the acquisition of the other”?
You have the ones who throw the accusations of sectarianism and racism and partition; a situation that follows you every time you attempt to provide rights to the “people” of your country, forgetting that we are the sons of the saying “too big to be swallowed and too small to be divided. This saying applies not only to the country but to the group within and their voices.
Yes, “our voice, that is too large to swallow and our size that is too small to be divided.” This is what prompted our acceptance of the Orthodox law and our demand for it to this day.
Our hunger for harmony, and our thirst for movement from worse to better, those are what pushed us to approve the so-called mixed laws and even our suggestions for some of them to be created with certain conditions that are unifying and fair, so it may be a precursor of the transformation of Lebanon from a “nation of religions and sects” to “a nation of citizenship”and moving on to “the Senate” that guarantees the fate and the ” Parliament” that secures the citizenship.
It is for this that we agreed that Lebanon absorbs our voice and that the nation of citizenship divide us, only to realize, sadly, that there is no place for the “nation of citizens” in this country only in the form of a takeover of our voices in the electoral law, and the nation of sectarianism continues its takeover of the laws of personal issues and inheritance and marriage and citizenship… That is the seizure of the daily lives in the name of Allah.
Is this not the void itself to remain without equality in the “nation of citizenship,” and without freedom in the nation of religions you become devoid of your citizenship and sect because of this dual seizure? The void has become unacceptable to us, and unwanted in our order and disastrous in our time.
Is this not the extension itself, which one remains in place since the law of sixty until you fall in to their law? And they go together, extension and sixty, both refused because they are restrictions to our freedom and an affirmation of their takeover?
Is this not the time of freedom and agreement, an covenant we promised our children by “the father of all”, and we agreed that we leave behind to our children a better time, than what was left to us of “sixty and extension and void.”
How can we, while we are on the road back to the covenant and proliferation, that we betray the confidence of those who have lost the land for the freedom? The hour for the law of freedom has struck and we shall be at its resurrection, in the time of resurrection.
Crucifixion is the road to freedom and we shall carry the burden and suffer the pain for it. The crucifixion has the thorns of offensiveness, and the vinegar of deception, and the board of division, and the nail of seizure, and the spear of martyrdom… so be it!
So let it be death, be it political or physical, for the sake of freedom that is most precious of our values, and for the freedom of our children who are most precious to us.
Let it be crucifixion in the week of suffering, the suffering of Christ and our nation, and since the resurrection is coming. The resurrection of the law of freedom!
Translated by Hala Hayek