The message of expatriates claiming their citizenship was clear, when Lebanon’s Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Minister addressed hundreds at a formal event in Sydney.
Gebran Bassil spoke with commitment to a cause he strongly believes in and encouraged the Lebanese Diaspora to claim their citizenship, register to vote and invest in Lebanon.
More than 600 people from all Lebanese political parties and religions attended the event organised by the United Australian Lebanese Movement (Free Patriotic Movement) in Sydney on April 2.
Known to be a true advocate of the strength and abilities of Lebanon’s Diaspora, he encouraged all Lebanese abroad ensure that they and their families are registered in Lebanon in order to ensure their rights and dignity as Lebanese are reserved
The minister addressed the crowd with conviction and emphasized that the expat population significantly outnumbered the population in Lebanon.
While many may view this as a downfall, Mr Gebran sees this as an opportunity to reconnect with them through culture, traditions, politics and trade.
‘We should work together in the service of Lebanon and its cause, this is our future. Every person who restores his Lebanese citizenship will give Lebanon a new day of life,’ Mr Gebran said.
Up to 500,000 Lebanese expatriates and their descendants live in Australia and close to 40 million live in 167 countries. He said no matter where Lebanese people are, they should always carry the message of peace and unity.
‘We have to always carry the message of Lebanon, we have to have a big heart to fit all people and have to have a big mind to look deep to the future. We need to show others that the Lebanese know how to bring people together and know how to live with each other, Muslims and Christians alike.’
The Foreign Minister, who is also leader of the FPM, said it was essential to make the Free Patriotic Movement bigger and stronger, claiming it wasn’t possible to run a country without a strong foundation. He added the movement needed to win in the upcoming elections to start working towards change.
‘We need to work hard because we have elections and we want to win. That’s the life of democrats. We need to speak to each person, every village and understand them. Argileh and coffee needs to come after midnight, only once we’ve done the hard work. A country won’t continue without preparations. We want to win the elections to be able to make some changes in Lebanon.’
He expressed his gratitude that all the political parties were united saying it echoed Lebanon’s message of unity and coexistence.
Honourable guests who attended the event included Minister of Presidential Affairs HE Dr Pierre Raffoul, Jihad Dib representing opposition leader Luke Foley, Shaoquett Moselmane member of NSW legislative council, Julia Finn MP for Granville, Bishop of Maronite Eparchy His Eminence Antoine Charbel Tarabay and Sheik Kamal Mousselmani head of the Supreme Islamic Shia Council of Australia.
Mr Gebran’s tour kicked off in Australia on Thursday, March 30 and ended Thursday, April 6. During his time, he visited Perth, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, New Zealand, Canberra and Adelaide and met with Australia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Julia Bishop.
By Rita Rizk