Ghassan Tueni’s words still ring true in Lebanon

Monday June 8 marked the third anniversary of Ghassan Tueni’s death

Nayla Tueni

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Monday June 8 marked the third anniversary of Ghassan Tueni’s death. It marked the memory of his permanent presence – his name and memory live on as a reminder of the core aims for the well-being of Lebanese society and the wider nation.

I will not talk about Tueni, my grandfather who played a father’s role following the latter’s absence as this is private and there’s no need to talk about it. I will talk about Tueni, the journalist, the thinker, the politician, the diplomat, the orator, the debater and most importantly, the patriotic Lebanese figure who enriches my knowledge and enlightens me.

Perhaps recalling what Tueni said at the United Nations is useful, or rather necessary, to develop new analyses of policies and events. Reconsidering his speeches is also important to confirm that history is repeating itself as what Tueni said in 1981 before the United Nations’ 36th General Assembly is still applicable to Lebanon’s current situation. The past 35 years has passed in no time.

A sound lesson

Tueni’s ideas could perhaps teach some a lesson. He said that paving the way for the resumption of international and regional struggles inside Lebanon turned it – or rather further turned it – into an explosive situation threatening the region’s societies and states.

The region’s countries then went on to say they don’t want to become another Lebanon. Lebanon thus has the right to ask: Can Arabs gain peace themselves after they have lost Lebanon? Gentlemen, Lebanon is a country of dialogue which always rises from below rubble and ruins and when someone bets on its national unity, he’d also be betting on its Arab affiliation and its civilized message to its surrounding and the world. Experiences which Lebanon has been through prove that what divides the Lebanese people is a lot less important than what unites them and that what distinguishes them as a group is deeper than what distinguishes them as separate individuals.

The disputes which expand by the day can be contained within the context of democratic institutions which, even if wounded, have overcome years of captivation. Violence failed to suffocate freedoms, and the Lebanese people’s ferocity at clinging to their land and defending it emerged as a role model to look up to. A small country that can overcome all what we’ve overcome and continues to be a one united and sovereign entity that holds on to life and that can build a house to replace its destroyed ones, seek a livelihood even in the darkest moments of desperation and embrace life, make death seem like it’s not a fact but a mirage.

Lebanon, which now believes that its strength lies in its energy to defend its land and rights, considers that it must now finish preparing the army with the help of brothers and friends so it can gradually carry out its security and defense duties completely and on its own and so it can fully participate in sharing Arab strategic responsibilities. Then, the faithful Lebanon will become a real guarantee for the security of those close to it instead of being a source of fear in regards to its own and their own security – or it can go back to gaining its security from others’ security but all in vain.

These were the words, thoughts and ideas of Ghassan Tueni, and they still ring true.

This article was first published in al-Nahar on June 11, 2015.


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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