On the death of a great man in Lebanon

Nayla Tueni

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Lebanese politician and former Foreign Minister Fouad Boutros passed away Sunday at the age of 95. I did not know him, but I knew a lot about him from my grandfather Ghassan Tueni as they were friends. Boutros and Tueni sought to establish institutions that suit Lebanon, and to solidify the principles of democracy, diversity and acceptance of others.

It is through looking back at history, and through them, that we can recall this country’s beautiful old days. Only a few figures are left from this generation, such as former parliament speaker Hussein al-Husseini and former minister Michel Edde.

Boutros was known as someone who was always pessimistic. He hoped that Lebanon would have a solid state, and when he was once asked about the sense of citizenship among the Lebanese people, he wondered how there can be citizenship without a state of institutions.

He said in Lebanon “there’s a state everywhere,” but this does not mean there is a state as per legal terms. According to the right legal definition, the state is an entity that citizens unite around while agreeing on the necessity of its existence, and agreeing that it has the final say in affairs and an exclusive right to resort to power.

Unfulfilled dream

Boutros has left us while still dreaming of this state. It is unfortunate that generations succeed one another without achieving this dream. After the civil war, militiamen simply took off their military uniforms and dressed as civilians to continue performing their ill practises inside state institutions.

Among those whom we have also lost is former President Fouad Chehab. Not a single day passes without us mourning him - and others - as he was the one who built institutions. We hope young people from our generation and future generations succeed in altering the current situation and revealing Lebanon’s true face. With Boutros’s death, a great man has left us at a time when great men are rare.

This article was first published in an-Nahar on Jan. 8, 2016.
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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