No one in Lebanon “owns” the historical day of March 14. It is neither the property of parties competing over it, nor an occasion to hold festivals and announce stances. March 14 is not a political alliance to hold, or agree to hold, parliamentary and municipal elections.
It is not an occasion to spite the March 8 coalition and its parties, which held on to Syrian tutelage following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and continued to involve Lebanon in the Syrian swamp. Some of these March 8 parties have gone as far as getting involved in Bahrain and Yemen, and have ruined Lebanon’s relations with brotherly countries.
March 14 is the spirit of sovereignty, independence and freedom. It is the basis for a bright future that respects humans and citizens regardless of their politics or religion. March 14 rejected tutelage, occupation and dependency. It represents loyalty to all the martyrs who fell, and all those who survived assassination attempts.
March 14 is slain politician and publisher Gebran Tueni’s oath on the unity of the Lebanese people to defend our great country. It is the dream of the civil state that late Bishop Gregoire Haddad called for. It is a country of human rights, as set down by late diplomat Charles Malek, who helped draft the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is the economic dream that almost faded away with the assassination of Hariri.
March 14 is the youths who set up tents in Martyrs’ Square in downtown Beirut to protest Syrian troops’ presence in Lebanon, and eventually forced politicians to join them in this independence revolution that defeated the Syrian occupier. March 14 is the people who went to Martyrs’ Square on that historical day in their millions - the biggest protest Lebanon has ever witnessed, and which will be a lesson for future generations.
They went to the square on their own; no one mobilized them - on the contrary, parties followed them. Those people only raised the Lebanese flag that day - proof that they had not been broken by proxy wars.
March 14 harmonizes with the “Free Your Mind” campaign that An-Nahar newspaper launched a month ago, which aims to push the Lebanese people to a revolution that does not destroy, but rather sets proper foundations for the future.
We are aware that political parties and sectarian affiliations are more able to influence people. However, we are also aware that the Lebanese people - who resisted Israeli occupation, rejected Syrian tutelage and thwarted the plan to establish a substitute country for the Palestinians on their land - deserve a country that suits them.
They deserve to have institutions that look after them and provide them with the best services. It is in their interest to build a state of institutions. We are betting on the Lebanese people and on March 14 supporters, who are not bound by political parties or sects.
This article was first published in an-Nahar on Mar. 14, 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