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Celebrating the icons Lebanon has lost

Last week, Lebanon lost singer and actress Sabah and poet Said Akl

Nayla Tueni

Published: Updated:

Last week, Lebanon lost two of its greatest figures. It lost singer and actress Sabah, who belonged to the world of Lebanese folklore and who spread it in the Arab world and Said Akl, who was a poetry genius known for his love of Lebanon.

This world of prominent figures is befitting of those who carried Lebanon’s name to the world. They were artists, poets, authors, ambassadors and even politicians. And why shouldn’t politicians be included in this list?? Didn’t Ghassan Tueni uphold United Nations Security Council Resolution 425? What about Charles Malik who played a role in establishing the human rights bill? Didn’t Maroun Baghdadi secure us a place on the world’s television channels and didn’t Amin Maalouf take us to the world’s libraries? Haven’t the martyrs of the free word and those who survived assassinations secured Lebanon a place on the podium? There is May Chidiac who stands as a symbol of resisting violence and there is Marwan Hamade who testifies the truth in front of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon.

Haven’t the martyrs of the free word and those who survived assassinations secured Lebanon a place on the podium?

Nayla Tueni

Some may not like what has been said and written, the executioner and the murderer don’t cheer for the survival of their victim. It’s true that international laws and human rights bills all call for the right of expression - which we continuously defend - but there’s a huge difference between expressing opinions and insulting, humiliating and refusing to grant others their right of expression even if we disagree with them. Perhaps what we’ve learnt from our schools and families don’t resemble the reality we’re currently witnessing in Lebanon as concepts of freedom have changed.

But regardless of what’s been said about Lebanon’s many figures - whether during their life or after their death - those who made it into this world of prominent, celebrated figures, such as Sabah and Akl, have found a home there and it’s impossible to exclude them despite all malicious attempts.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on December 4, 2014.

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Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column. She can be followed on Twitter @NaylaTueni

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