Thursday, November 15, 2012

An-Nahar Interviews Rodrigue Khoury

Arabic original here (at least for the week).

Rodrigue Khoury Speaks to an-Nahar: 
The Party of the Levant is Byzantine Orthodox, Not Nazi

An attractive rhetorical tone, teetering between enthusiasm and clarity inflames listeners with an intense impulse. A regular gesture rises and threatens, striking the podium and giving the impression of power. A radical tone mimics instincts and the subconscious, which within seconds produces a clear identification between the speaker and his audience. They become one, united by bonds of sect, roots, identity, and presence under the flag of the "Byzantine emblem."

The scene is not a passing rhetorical moment in the life of the Byzantine Empire, but rather a scene from current Lebanese reality, as made by Rodrigue Khoury, founder of the "Party of the Levant," this rhetorical phenomenon that leads you to recall the speeches of Hitler right before the Second World War. The ideological inheritance of the Byzantine Empire makes is most clearly manifest in Khoury's speeches through his making the sign of the cross and closing his words with "amen." This ideologized discourse immediately places you in the presence of the Fuhrer. As you see him at the podium exchanging the famous greeting with his audience, you completely realize that you are before a Lebanese copy of Hitler.

However, Khoury's propensity to Hitlerian rhetoric is not a factor of weakness, but of strength. As for the content, it is no less radical than Nazi rhetoric. Many regard the positions of the youth, of an extremist Orthodox cast, as rejecting openness and the civil state, but he rejects the idea that his party-- the only Orthodox party in Lebanon-- is extremist. Is he attempting, through his rhetoric that mimics instincts by playing the sectarian card, to fill this void on the Orthodox stage and seize its politican reins? What about his party's plans for Lebanon and the region and the community's position toward its existence?

Khoury explains that "the party began out of the reality that the Orthodox community is living, on account of the pressure put upon it to forget its historical identity and to marginalize it from political life. There is an absence of Christian-- and not only Orthodox-- discourse in the region on account of the Christian subservience to either political Sunnism or political Shi'ism. What caused us to establish this party is the absence of youth from leadership and the absence of an Orthodox political party."

Belief and Identity

According to Khoury, the party starts off from the basis of "a pluralistic vision of the society Lebanese society and of all the Levant. Our society is made up of various cultures and each culture must be represented in the government. Lebanon has come to have the Arabic language, but it does not have an Arab culture. Rather, it is a melting-pot incorporating different cultures. There is no problem in saying that Lebanon is Arab with regard to language, but there is in saying that its culture is Arab because Arab culture is generally Islamic and Lebanon, like the rest of the Middle East, does not belong to Islamic culture, but rather to a diversity of cultures." He dismisses accusations of sectarianism by saying, "This is openness. It is very important that we be familiar with our own culture and cooperate with others on the basis of knowing our roots. On this basis we will establish better forms of dialogue with others. Cultural exchange must take place effectively. We do not want to return the region to Byzantine culture. However, it is important that Arabs do not cover over the entire region in their image, ignoring the other culture that was present in the region." He adds, "The constitution must affirm that Lebanon is a multicultural state in the same manner that it affirms Lebanon's Arab identity and affiliation. If we want to change the face of the region, the Arab Spring must recognize the rights of all cultures and minorities."

"The Levant" in the Region and the World

Khoury states that "the Levant" is in contact with Orthodox youth in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Palestine and that "through Facebook it has been possible to form relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Patriarchates of Alexandria and Russia, and all the patriarchates. The Patriarch of Jerusalem encouraged us after we sent him our party's emblem, which is a two-headed eagle." As for the reason for choosing the Byzantine symbol as the party's emblem, Khoury explains, "This was formerly the symbol of the entire region, so why regard it as a sectarian symbol?"

Khoury describes Turkey as "a state built on the ruins of the cultures and peoples it exterminated. It must confess to the crimes it committed against Armenians and Christians and return the Church of Aya Sofya and other monuments in order for us to establish better relations with it." He adds that "These holy places are the concern of the Christians of the world and consequently a comprehensive Christian policy should be put in place to secure their return. Here lies the importance of our relationships with Orthodox parties, organizations, and personalities in the world, in coordinating shared concerns."

"The Levant" and the Church

There have been reports of opposition to the new party from some priests, and with regard this Khoury says, "Some priests support us openly, and some secretly. The Church does not have a unified position."

As for the position of Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim, Khoury explains, "Patriarch Hazim is neither supportive nor opposed. In principle, we have not yet organized to visit him and present a complete agenda." As to his ties with Russian parties and personalities, he states that "they are concerned with helping the Christians of the Middle East." As for the position of Metropolitan Elias Audi, he says, "I do not know."

Lebanon and "the Levant"

On the level of Lebanon, Khoury explains that he is "for any system that preserves the concerns and rights of the sects. I am for anything that protects the political existence of the sects, in all this word means." He emphasized that federalism is not part of "the Levant"'s plan, explaining that will study the question of participating in the coming elections.

Khoury described his relations with March 14 as being good, "We are in agreement with the call for the sovereignty of the state, limiting weapons to the army, Lebanon's openness to the United Nations, and involvement in legitimate global issues." Regarding March 8, "I agree with them in terms of the basic position towards Israel, however we disagree with them with regard to [Hezbollah's] weapons."

He criticized the naming of Orthodox deputies by non-Orthodox, "In order for the law to be correct, it must allow for the Orthodox to name their own candidates, but not the Church because its role is to guide from a distance, not to turn into a political party."

The party is still a newborn and it finances itself through what the youth can collect among themselves. According to Khoury, "We are currently holding meetings to lay out a clear structure and to hand leadership within the party over to young people from all the Christian communities. We will work to lay out a comprehensive national vision that treats the various issues  in the nation and the Middle East, which we will release over the course of the year."


The Anti-Gnostic said...

Perhaps the Orthodox in Lebanon are mobilizing to prevent what is happening with the Orthodox in Syria.

Samn! said...

Well, I'll say that a new sort of response to the current situation is definitely needed. I have serious reservations about Rodrigue Khoury being the person for this that I expect will come out as the story of his party plays out... This is very likely to be something that will wind up doing more harm than good.

NOCTOC said...

Rodrigue Khoury on his numerous interviews with Greek media which can be easily found in the internet was always stressing out that the Greek Orthodox of Lebanon and Syria are of Greek origin and the creation of the so called "Orthodox Party" in Lebanon had as its main objective as stated by him: "to to save our historical identity the “Byzantine-hellenic" identity.
In this interview, Rodrigue Khoury, makes no mention of even the word Greek or Hellenic let alone of claiming that the Orthodox of Lebanon and Syria are the "Acritans of Hellenism" or that he is pround of his Greek ancestry.
It is ovbious that Rodrigue Khoury says different things to the Greek media and the Greek people and different things to the Arab media and the Lebanese people.
I have come to the conclusion that Khoury's political rhetoric for "return to Hellenism" has been greatly watered down as of late and and I do not need to wonder which forces have intervened towards this direction.
It is funny to state that Rodrigue Khoury is a Nazi and I believe that his party will disappear as easily as it has appeared because it ideals will be sold out (if they haven't been already) to the "big fish" of the Church of Antioch" who will in turn distroy it as well as the reasons behind its original formation.
Arabism and its supporters are like a big octopus and its arms suffocate anybody who tries to go against it.
«Αιωνία η μνήμη» to your Party dear Rodrigue Khoury because it has already been suffocated by the Arabists.