Lebanese Americans began voting Sunday in the first parliamentary elections held by Lebanon in nine years. The historic occasion marks the first time Lebanese citizens are allowed to vote abroad.
Sunday’s vote in 33 countries comes two days after Lebanese expatriates voted in six Arab countries.
According to the state-run Lebanese National News Agency, 82,970 Lebanese expatriates are registered to vote around the world. Australia has the largest number of registered voters with 11,826.
Canada has 11,438, followed by the United States with about 10,000, the news agency added.
Metro Detroit, home to one of the largest populations of Lebanese Americans in the U.S., established three polling locations in Michigan for expatriates to vote. Registration was required in advance, officials said.
The Detroit Consulate, which handles consular duties for 13 other states, also established one polling location in Ohio, one location in Minnesota and one in Illinois.
Voting inside Lebanon will be held next Sunday.
According to the Consulate, Lebanese citizens eligible to vote need to bring a Lebanese ID, a valid Lebanese passport or a recently renewed or issued temporary passport.
In South America, thousands of Lebanese citizens are also expected to cast their ballots Sunday. Leila Smidi, a mother of four living in Brazil, said she feels closer to her native land after voting.
“Today’s voting is very important because for the first time we will have a voice in Lebanese affairs,” Smidi, who has lived in Brazil for 11 years, told the Associated Press.
Lebanon’s current legislature has extended its own term several times, citing security threats in Syria.
(DETROIT) — Syrian singer Rouwaida Attieh on Tuesday honored Lebanese musical legend Sabah during a tribute concert in Dearborn, Michigan, the home of the largest Arab American population in the United States.
The Lebanese American Heritage Club hosted the international songstress for a concert titled, “Sabah, The Musical Dream.”
Attieh traveled to Paris last March to perform at the famous Le Trianon Theater, where she presented a collection of Sabah’s most popular songs.
Sabah was once quoted at the Beiteddine Festival in Lebanon saying she considered Attieh the best person to have performed her songs.
Attieh was presented with a special tribute from State Senator David Knezek and recognition awards from Dearborn City Council President Susan Dabaja and Council Member Mike Sarieni.
LAHC Executive Director Wassim Mahfouz also thanked Attieh for headlining the concert.
Attieh was the first runner-up on the first season of Super Star, the pan-Arab import of “Pop Idol,” where she quickly rose to fame. She has worked with several Arab musical giants, including Lebanese composer Imad Shamseddine and Lebanese legend Wadih El Safi, among others.
Sabah, one of the leading Arab performers of her generation, died at the age of 87 last November. She was said to recorded over 3,500 songs in her lifetime.
VIDEO: Singer Rouwaida Attieh pays tribute to the Lebanese musical legend Sabah at a concert hosted by the Lebanese American Heritage Club in Dearborn, Michigan.
(NEW YORK) — The Lebanese American University held a lecture Wednesday exploring evidence compiled by author Karim El Koussa, which suggests Jesus may be a Phoenician, according to his private studies.
The university hosted the Lebanese author at the LAU New York Academic Center, where university officials frequently host public forums and hold Arabic language courses, among others.
El Koussa said 40 people attended the lecture, which included a book signing for his publication “Jesus the Phoenician.” He admits the results of his studies often spark controversy because they contradict conventional beliefs that Jesus was a Jew.
“Some people are used to the traditional way of thinking that was imposed on them throughout their life and are definitely afraid to open their minds to controversial ideas in matter of religion and history,” El Koussa said, referring to points discussed in his book. “They usually react in a very fierce way as if they are threatened, although many of the reference I am using are coming from the New Testament itself.”
El Koussa, who has a degree in communications from NDU, said he spent years researching the origins of Jesus. He said he was inspired by a mentor, Father Youssef Yammine, the author of the Arabic book, “Christ was Born in Lebanon.”
“Many others understand and accept the logic behind the material used in the lecture and find it truly consistent and holding,” he said.
The Phoenicians were ancient tradesmen largely credited with creating the first widely used alphabet. Historians believe the Phoenicians were centered on the coastline of modern Lebanon, with some ports reaching the Western Mediterranean.
Some Lebanese historians believe the Lebanese speak a distinct language and have their own culture, separate from that of the surrounding Middle Eastern countries.
El Koussa said he hopes Lebanese nationals consider researching the origins of Jesus, especially readings that point to geographical evidence along the Lebanese coastline.
“Lebanon is one of the oldest countries in the world and is full of history, going back to more than 7,000 years BC,” he said. “Lebanese should be proud of their cultural heritage and should not at all forget that their ancestors played an important role—if not the most important one—in the formation of the human civilization.”
For more information about El-Koussa and his books, visit el-koussa.com.
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(DETROIT) — Lebanese Forces MP Shant Chinchinian on Saturday called for immediate presidential elections in Lebanon during keynote remarks at the Lebanese Forces Michigan Chapter twentieth annual banquet in Detroit.
Chinchinian, who is visiting the United States for his second time, said the political situation in Lebanon would improve if a president is elected. He believes protest groups in Beirut should set fixed demands that urge leaders to stop boycotting presidential sessions.
“Our candidate is still Dr. Samir Geagea,” Chinchinian told Lebanese Examiner during an exclusive interview. “But we are open to discussion later on; we are not set on (Geagea) as an obstacle that makes him president, or nobody else.”
The Lebanese Forces banquet drew about 250 people, mostly supporters of the March 14 Alliance, which is largely comprised of leaders from the Future Movement, Lebanese Forces, and Kataeb Party.
Christian Nasr, secretary general of the Lebanese Forces in North America, also traveled to Detroit for the banquet, which was held at the hall of Life Application Ministries Church – the former location of St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church.
Chinchinian appeared on Sunday in Sterling Heights at Bemis Junior High School, the temporary location of St. Sharbel Church, for a mass to “honor and remember Lebanese Forces martyrs.”
Chinchinian, who is from Zahle, is a graduate of the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom, where he studied international policy and security, according to his CV.
Zahle is home to one of the largest populations of Syrian refugees in the world — an issue that Chinchinian said requires international intervention.
“For a small country like Lebanon, it was very difficult to receive this number of refugees,” he said. “(The Lebanese Forces) demanded that refugee camps should be set up within Syria.”
Chinchinian said during the Lebanese Civil War, only a small percentage of Lebanese citizens became refugees. He believes “internal displacement” is a better solution.
“I think the best solution for everybody is to prepare safe zones within Syria, non-military zones, that could house the refugees,” he added.
These concerns add a “burden” on the Lebanese economy and make electricity, water, and waste removal even more difficult, he believes. The matter of garbage has prompted historic protests in Beirut over corruption and political dysfunction.
Secular protest groups have prompted international attention and increased public anger over the garbage crisis — concerns that Chinchinian said are “rightful.”
“The protests started with rightful demands,” Chinchinian said. “Almost all the Lebanese agree with these demands — from electricity, to water, and mainly the garbage situation that is unbearable.”
However, he added that protesters should remain peaceful and defy violence committed by hostile crowds. Protesters argue that police brutality, not the protest groups, has naturally led to escalated violence.
“It’s easy to regret something and to put the blame on somebody else,” he said. “It’s in the duty of the groups that are demonstrating to control the demonstration and to have clear and limited goals.”
Chinchinian added that he met with the environmental parliamentary committee in Lebanon prior to his trip to Detroit. He believes the plan proposed under the direction of Agriculture Minister Akram Shehayeb is viable.
The plan – announced after six hours of deliberation between the Lebanese cabinet – aims to decentralize waste management by giving municipalities the responsibility.
“This is the only plan; there are no other solutions,” he said. “I think the municipalities will accept it in the end.”
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(NEW YORK, NY) — The Lebanese American University in New York will host 60 students from 11 different nationalities during a Global Outreach and Leadership Development Conference on July 21.
The nine-day conference brings together aspiring diplomats for a series of Model United Nations educational simulations, which teach students about diplomacy and international relations.
According to LAU officials, participants are high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
A group of scheduled speakers will discuss international relations and diplomacy, including presentations from the Maxwell School Of Citizenship and Public Affairs, National Council on US-Arab Relations, and Friendship Ambassadors Foundation, among others.
“Bringing in experts from reputable universities and professional centers to share their leadership experiences, methodologies and perspectives has undoubtedly enriched the GOLD experience,” said Elie Samia, assistant vice president of university outreach and civic engagement.
Last year, LAU hosted officials from UNICEF, the World Youth Alliance, and Georgetown University. The students were also given a tour of New York City, including visits to the Financial District, UN headquarters, and Brooklyn Bridge.
70 students participated last year, according to university officials.
“It has made our future as motivated leaders more tangible and real,” said Marianne Azar, a high school student from the 2014 program. “The perspectives from all speakers have been of most prominence as an inauguration for our future.”
The university said the conference aims to “expose students to the work of the UN and to the world of advocacy, empowerment and leadership.”
LAU runs two flagship Model UN programs: the Global Classrooms International High and Middle Schools Model UN Conferences, which have been run by United Nations Association of the United States since 2005.
The university will host a closing ceremony on July 30, expected to be attended by Caroline Ziade, deputy representative of the Permanent Mission of Lebanon to the UN, Dr. Muhammed Baasiri, vice governor of the Lebanese Central Bank, and Joseph Jabbra, LAU president.
LAU runs a satellite campus in New York City and operates under a charter from the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York. The university had more than 8,200 students enrolled in Fall 2014.
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(DEARBORN, MI) — The Bint Jebail Cultural Center in Dearborn, Mich. was vandalized with graffiti recently, amid an ongoing controversy involving Imam Hassan Qazwini, who resigned from the Islamic Center of America in January.
“The Qazwini and Iraq Club,” the graffiti read in Arabic. Other statements attacking the center’s founder, Mohammed Turfe, were sprayed on doors and walls.
Qazwini has been hosting Ramadan prayer services at the Bint Jbeil Center, which prompted an anonymous letter attacking the center’s founder.
“We hold Mohammed Turfe fully responsible for the unprecedented act of hosting Qazwini, and we ask him to ban Qazwini from the center to save the community from controversy and divisions,” the letter said.
Qazwini is an Iraqi-American, while most board members are Lebanese-American. Qazwini says his opponents are targeting him because of his national origin.
In January, Qazwini was the target of anonymous letters that accused him of corruption and adultery, including diverting mosque money for his father’s projects in Iraq.
He strongly denied all allegations, except admitting that he sent some money to his father’s charitable orphanage in Iraq.
Qazwini, who was born in Iraq, says he was the victim of racism by Lebanese board members, who wanted to fund projects in Lebanon, according to the Detroit Free Press.
A group of volunteers have since cleaned off the graffiti. Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the Dearborn Police at 313-943-3012.
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