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Councilman John Akouri, former Washington, DC Press Secretary & Capitol Hill Advisor, is President & CEO of the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce.

Saturday, September 14, 2002

The Last Speech: Excerpts from the Convent

Bachir Gemayel, in a speech delivered on the morning of his assassination, days after his election to the Presidency in 1982, avowed: "We must today conquer all Lebanon, all its 10,452 square kilometres." The following are excerpts from that fateful speech at Deir Al Salib:
"In the name of all the Christians of the Middle East, and as Lebanese Christians, let us proclaim that if Lebanon is not to be a Christian national homeland, it will nonetheless remain a homeland for Christians. Above all a homeland for Christians, though one for others as well if they so choose a homeland to be protected and preserved, in which our churches may be rebuilt at the time and in the manner we desire.
Yasser Arafat has transformed the church of Damur into a garage. We forgive him, and though they defiled, sullied and pillaged the church of Damur, we will rebuild it. Had we been in Egypt or Syria, perhaps we would not even have had the right to rebuild a destroyed church.
Our desire is to remain in the Middle East so that our church bells may ring out our joys and sorrow whenever we wish! We want to continue to christen, to celebrate our rites and traditions, our faith and our creed whenever we wish! We want to be able to assume and testify to our Christianity in the Middle East! And whatever may be the difficulty in offering this testimony, we will never renounce it.
We will testify to our Christianity in Lebanon! We will testify to our Christianity in the Middle East!
So that Lebanon may truly be the Lebanon we desire, it must perforce remain the land of freedom, the homeland of civilization. Otherwise it will resemble Yemen or those countries wherein there remains not the slightest trace of our existence, nor the least reason for it.
As a Christian part of the Middle East, we want to be different from others and possess a land which, without being - let it be repeated - a Christian national homeland, shall be a country for Christians, where we may live in dignity, without being forced by anyone to deny our faith, as we were in the time of the Turks when we were ordered to walk on the left because we were Christians. We do not want to be forced to wear any sort of discriminatory badge on our body or on our clothes - so that one might know that we were Christians - and we do not want to be transformed into citizens existing in the "dhimmitude" of others!
Henceforth, we refuse to live in any "dhimmitude." We no longer wish to be under any protection. Our martyrs have defended us. Our martyrs have defended our cause. For eight years, our martyrs have defended our freedom and our presence in the Middle East, during which the whole world repudiated us, during which the whole world disinherited us, during which the whole world ignored us; and when we emerged victorious, all became our friends, all sought to befriend us.
In the future, it is our duty to deal with the whole world devoid of any sort of complex. No one can outwit us! No one can outrank us in bravery! And no one has defended his country more than we have defended ours! We want to live here in dignity! We no longer wish people to preach morality or philosophy to us, to give money or inform us of the proper manner in which to act. We alone knew what was expected of us, for had we not done what we did, we would not be here today and there would not have remained a single nun, priest, or cross!"

JOHN AKOURI ONLINE NEWSROOM 'We will confront this mortal danger to all humanity. We will not tire, or rest, until the war on terror is won.' -- PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH Add to end of above"line without paranthesis when wanting to loop sound (( loop="-1">