A Hellenocentric View of Orthodox Politics in Lebanon
Cypriot friend of the blog NOCTOC provided this translation from Greek
of a rather less commonly-heard viewpoint on the political and ethnic identity of Lebanese Orthodox. I feel safe saying that it is a minority viewpoint, but it is still an interesting read nonetheless.
October 3. 2008 A call for help by the Greeks in Lebanon By Rodrigue (Dimitri) El Khoury
■ Orthodox Party (Lebanon)
The Lebanese society as we know, is a pluralistic society. There are Syrians, Arab Muslims and Greeks, known as Rum. It is true that they all now speak Arabic, after the Arab conquest, but these communities have maintained their identity.
The Greek Orthodox community in Lebanon, has many connections with our own people in Greece, since we have the same history,the same national heroes, the same faith, the Greek language in our liturgies, the same saints.In addition, many Greek saints are from Antioch. We reserve up until today a frank and sincere dedication to modern Greece. A testimony of our Greekness is the language of our religious ceremonies. Up until today we use Greek, alongside Arabic. We also know that many areas of Lebanon have Greek names.
The Arab conquest succeeded to obligate our community to speak Arabic, but even today we retain the consciousness that we are Greeks who have been forced to become Arabized. The danger today is that the Arab propaganda has managed to convince some of the Orthodox of Antioch, that they originate from pre- Islamic Arab populations and that we should maintain this identity in the present and in the future. This propaganda is been made by political parties in the region, and from this our youth are been put into risk. Why? Due to the failure of the existance orthodox political parties.
Each community here have their own parties, the Maronites have the party of the Lebanese Forces, the Kataeb, the FPM, the Marada, the Sunnis also have some partie (future Islamic organizations), the Shiites have Amal and the Hezbollah, the Armenians have Tashnak and Hanshak, the Druze the PSP, the Democratic Party and Attawhid. Only the Orthodox do not have parties. For this reason, our youth have been enclaved to all of these parties. Adopting at the same time the stand of these parties on our identity. There is no political party in Lebanon, saying to the Greek Orthodox youth that they are the successors of the Greek Antiochians, and that they are Greeks from the Hellenistic era. Most of these parties say we are Orthodox Syrians or Arabs.
What we are trying to do is to find a political party for the Greek Orthodox community, which aims to:
■ Go back to our true identity, the Greek identity. ■ Strengthening our presence in the Lebanese political scene. ■ Connecting the Greek Antiochian youth with our own people and brothers in Greece. ■ We need to teach the Greek language to our youth.
We should insist on Hellenism and Orthodoxy, to save our nation from Arab and Islamic assimilation. The problem is that some priests and bishops who were swept away by Arab propaganda, have become proponents of Arab nationalism and say to the Greek Orthodox Youth that they are Arabs, not Greeks. And some others who have been affected by the propaganda of the Maronites, say to our youth that they are Syrian and not Greek.
Our community in Lebanon is as follows:
■ constitutes about 7% of the total population. ■ is the second largest Christian church, and the fourth largest religion in Lebanon. ■ Our effectiveness in the political field is lacking. Our community, like most Lebanese communities is living in poor economic conditions. So our orthodox youth have been absorbed in non-Orthodox parties in order to recieve money from them.
The Lebanese political reality is sectarian. Every religious community has some power. The president is a Maronite, the prime minister is a Sunni, and the chairman of parliament is given to the Shiites. The Greek Orthodox have the deputy prime minister and the vice-president of parliament, but do not have any significant power under the Constitution. The Electoral Act calculates several communities of Lebanon, but does not calculate the Orthodox. Why? Because we do not have an organized political body to speak on behalf of our community, as with other communities.
I am communicating with you on behalf of the Greek Orthodox community of the areas belonging to the Patriarchate of Antioch and the Patriarchate of Jerusalem in an attempt to create a party or an organization that will work for these purposes. I've also finished a book in Arabic on the Greek identity of the Orthodox Church of Antioch (with over 100 historical bibliographical references).
In fact the lack of a party is the cause of forcing our youth to join Arab parties and are now saying that we are Arabs and create problems between our Greek brothers and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Holy Land, supported by the Arab parties and ploted by the Jews.
If you support us will become stronger. Do not forget that a large number of your people live here. If we forget that Greece might lose another piece of the vast empire built on blood and sacrifices of our Greek ancestors.