Tayyar U.S. delegation conclude weekend workshop

(DETROIT, MI) — A U.S. delegation of Free Patriotic Movement leaders concluded a two-day political workshop in Birmingham, Mich. on Sunday, which included an evening dinner attended by Consul General of Lebanon Bilal Kabalan.

Kabalan voiced his future plans to invite opposing Lebanese political factions to unanimously gather for a meeting.

“We have plans to bridge the various Lebanese political chapters in Detroit,” said Kabalan, during brief comments in Arabic. “This is an important and democratic asset to Lebanon to have so many differing beliefs.”

The final day of the workshop hosted political supporters of the March 8 alliance, including guests of the March 14 alliance, for a dinner at The Community House in downtown Birmingham.

Suehaila Amen, coordinator of the two-day conference, said the purpose was to restructure the Lebanese American Council of Democracy (LACD), which is largely managed by Tayyar leaders.

“This is an opportunity to bring together leaders from around the nation to reshape the mission and vision of this organization,” Amen said. “It’s also to make the group more social than political.”

Salim Sessine, local Lebanese-American businessman who organized the conference, said workshop attendees agreed to structure independent statewide organizations of LACD.

“We want to create one national board,” Sessine said. “Then there will be independent statewide chapters which will remain as separate entities.”

Conference attendees discussed the security situation in Lebanon and the ongoing presidential vacuum, which they say threatens Christians in the Middle East.

“Christians are currently in a fragile role in the region,” said Tony Faddoul, who came from New York for the conference. “But that issue is a uniting factor among many of the Lebanese political groups.”

Faddoul said FPM’s political strategy desires to protect Christians and rally the Lebanese diaspora to maintain their roots in Lebanon.

“We’re from a generation used to all the climax,” he said. “We heard of flourishing moments from our parents, but we haven’t had the chance to experience them. We instead emigrated to other countries.”

Wedad Elhage, who immigrated to the United States in 1980, said she’s pleased to see diaspora communities remain involved in Lebanese politics.

“I’m so proud to see different factions of our community here,” Elhage said. “As emigrants we came to the United States to achieve our dreams and have hopes to return our country and live freely.”

MORE: Tayyar gather in Detroit for nationwide political workshop. Click here for video.

Lebanese-American businessman Salim Sessine introducing Consul General of Lebanon Bilal Kabalan during a two-day political workshop for a U.S. delegation of Free Patriotic Movement representatives in Birmingham, Mich. Photo: Charlie Kadado/Lebanese Examiner
Lebanese-American businessman Salim Sessine introduces Consul General of Lebanon Bilal Kabalan during a two-day political workshop for a U.S. delegation of Free Patriotic Movement representatives in Birmingham, Mich. Photo: Charlie Kadado/Lebanese Examiner
Chiropractor Laura Mourad and businessman Gaby Issa listen to remarks by Consul General of Lebanon Bilal Kabalan. Photo: Charlie Kadado/Lebanese Examiner
Chiropractor Laura Mourad and businessman Gaby Issa listen to remarks by Consul General of Lebanon Bilal Kabalan. Photo: Charlie Kadado/Lebanese Examiner
Consul General of Lebanon Bilal Kabalan speaks to members of the Lebanese diaspora as Free Patriotic Movement U.S. representative Saad Hannoush looks on. Photo: Charlie Kadado/Lebanese Examiner
Consul General of Lebanon Bilal Kabalan speaks to members of the Lebanese diaspora as Free Patriotic Movement U.S. representative Saad Hannoush looks on. Photo: Charlie Kadado/Lebanese Examiner

Khayrallah Center aims to preserve Lebanese diaspora history

(ANN ARBOR, MI) — Dr. Akram Khater, director of the Moise A. Khayrallah Center for Lebanese Diaspora Studies, said Lebanese-Americans have a responsibility to preserve their history of immigration to the United States.

“We have to build a place for ourselves here,” said Khater, during a keynote address at the Lebanese Collegiate Network student convention in Ann Arbor, Mich. on Apr. 11. “We have to carve out a place in American history for the Lebanese and for the Arabs in general.”

Khater said Lebanese-Americans have established an influential role in American immigration history.

“We belong in (the USA) because our values are American values, and American values are ours,” he said. “We didn’t just assimilate.”

The Khayrallah Center was launched in 2014 at North Carolina State University after receiving an $8.1 million endowment from Lebanese-American businessman Moise Khayrallah.

The center aims to study Lebanese history in the United States, and to preserve stories of early Lebanese settlers.

LISTEN to Dr. Khater’s remarks:

Fox News commentator Walid Phares to visit Detroit

(DETROIT, MI) — Fox News commentator Walid Phares will visit Detroit, Mich. next month to attend a banquet hosted by the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce on May 29.

The organization announced they would honor Phares with the “Pillar of Baalbeck” award during a banquet entitled ‘An Evening with Walid Phares.’

Phares immigrated to the United States in 1990 from Lebanon, and quickly rose to become a leading commentator on global terrorism and Middle Eastern affairs.

Phares has testified before committees of the U.S. State, Justice, Defense and Homeland Security, the United States Congress, the European Parliament, and the United Nations Security Council.

Since 2007, he has served as an expert on terrorism and the Middle East for FOX News and previously held a position as terrorism expert for NBC from 2003 to 2006.

The Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce ‘Evening With’ events have previously hosted many other newsmakers, including MSNBC personality Raghida Dergham, CNN personality Octavia Nasr, filmmaker Nadine Labaki, Central Bank of Lebanon vice governor Raed Charafeddine, and Beirut Marathon Association founder May El Khalil.

The Chamber says they will announce details of the banquet in the coming weeks.

Arab-American students reverse university decision to screen ‘American Sniper’

UPDATE: The University of Michigan called their decision a “mistake” and returned to their original plan to show the film at the same location and time. Meanwhile, E. Royster Harper, vice president for student life, said the decision to drop the film violated “freedom of expression.”

(ANN ARBOR, MI) — Arab-American students from the University of Michigan protested the university’s Center for Campus Involvement on Monday, after the center announced they would screen the controversial film, “American Sniper.”

A petition started by sophomore Lamees Mekkaoui garnered 280 signatures on Tuesday, which prompted the university to cancel plans and respond to the controversy.

“Student reactions have clearly articulated that this is neither the venue nor the time to show this movie,” said the Center of Campus Involvement in a prepared statement. “We deeply regret causing harm to members of our community, and appreciate the thoughtful feedback provided to us by students and staff alike.”

“American Sniper” has come under fire by left-leaning audiences for its “polarizing” views on the Iraq war. The film has also been accused of presenting a positive portrayal of snipers, who allegedly took pleasure in killing Iraqis.

The film follows the story of a U.S. Navy SEAL in Iraq, who is fighting to “protect his comrades,” according to the film’s synopsis.

Many Arab-Americans have expressed outrage over the Clint Eastwood film, calling it a “disturbing” portrayal of Muslims in American media.

“Middle Eastern characters in the film are not lent an ounce of humanity and watching this movie is provocative and unsafe to MENA and Muslim students who are too often reminded of how little the media and world values their lives,” said a collective letter to the university from “Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) and Muslim Students” on campus.

“The University of Michigan should not participate in further perpetuating these negative and misleading stereotypes.”

Film critics have also responded with mixed reviews, including many insiders who call it “patriotic.”

The university has since cancelled the event, but a student activities representative said the screening will be rescheduled to include a panel discussion.

Amine Gemayel visits Lebanese community in Detroit

(DETROIT, MI) — Former President of Lebanon Amine Gemayel visited the Lebanese community in Detroit on Saturday, after making stops in Washington, DC and Boston earlier this week.

Gemayel was a guest of local business owner Toufic Souaid, who hosted a luncheon for the former president attended by local Lebanese-American leaders and party representatives.

WATCH highlights of Gemayel’s visit to Detroit:

Gemayel spoke exclusively with Lebanese Examiner Managing Editor Charlie Kadado about the ongoing political climate in Lebanon, and the role of Lebanese expatriates in helping to mend security conflicts.

“(Members of the diaspora) should plead the cause of Lebanon through the governments, the media, and the various leadership where they are,” he said. “The diaspora is very important for Lebanon’s existence and pluralism.”

Gemayel’s remarks come three days after he spoke to Boston College and called 2014 “a year of existential crisis” for Middle East Christians. He adds that Lebanon’s pluralism provides a “unique” blueprint for other Middle Eastern countries.

“Lebanon is an example for a harmonious coexistence among the various religious communities,” said Gemayel. “That’s what we’re trying to protect.”

Future Movement Michigan commemorates 10 years since Hariri’s assassination

(DETROIT, MI) — The Michigan Chapter of the Future Movement political party held a banquet on Thursday, commemorating the 10-year anniversary since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, who was assassinated on Feb. 14, 2005.

Hariri was a celebrated political icon and business tycoon, who was known as a voice of moderation and advocate for an independent and prosperous Lebanon.

The Michigan political group hosted Mirna Meneimneh, Expatriates Sector General Coordinator for Tayyar Al-Mustaqbal in Lebanon, who also attended a luncheon welcoming former President of Lebanon Amine Gemayel on Saturday.

Meneimneh said the late premier’s efforts will continue under the “promise” of his son, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

WATCH Future Movement Michigan President Ibrahim Hakkani talk about the commemoration:

Lebanese-American comedian ‘NEMR’ to visit Michigan, DC

(DETROIT, MI) — Lebanese-American comedian ‘NEMR’ will visit Detroit, Mich. and Washington, DC in April to appear in several comedy venues, including the Lebanese Collegiate Network student convention on April 10.

NEMR is credited with establishing English comedy skits in the Middle East and for advocating on behalf of Lebanese youth and encouraging them to stay in Lebanon.

He’s also an accomplished comic with six full feature specials and a prime-time television show called “A Stand Up Comedy Revolution.” He holds the record for biggest show in every major country in the Middle East, which sold out to 4,000 people in Beirut last July.

NEMR grew up in San Diego, California before moving back with his family to Lebanon where his career in comedy took off.

The comedian will appear at the Lebanese Collegiate Network Convention in Ann Arbor, Mich. on April 10, Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle in Royal Oak, Mich. on April 12, and the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC on April 16.

For tickets and information for the DC show, click here. For more information about the Royal Oak show, click here.

Lebanese Forces Detroit elect new president after bylaw changes

(DETROIT, MI) — The Lebanese Forces Detroit Chapter announced the election of a new president under new international bylaws passed and approved by the Lebanese Forces headquarters in Lebanon.

Former President Tony Malouf was succeeded by local business owner John Moussawer during a general meeting held at St. Sharbel Maronite Catholic Church in Warren, Mich. on March 8.

The group’s bylaws changed since Malouf’s election in 2010 after the party headquarters in Lebanon announced they were altering articles of elections by “making them more democratic,” according to a news release.

“We’re building this true democratic political party in the Middle East,” said Tarek Madi, vice president of the Lebanese Forces Detroit Chapter. “We have the new bylaws, the new system now and the elections happened in November, but we were waiting for Lebanon to approve.”

Madi said the newly elected board plans to host social and political events that “give back to both the Lebanese Christian and Muslim communities.”

“We’re going to have monthly political meetings and work with American congressmen and host fundraisers for them,” Madi said. “We will also continue to host members of parliament from Lebanon.”

Moussawer previously served as Lebanese Forces president from 2006 to 2010, according to Madi. His term will last four years.

LebaneseExaminer.com is an independent news organization, free of any allegiance to political parties, movements, candidates, or causes.

Christian Lebanese Foundation to host 10 registration campaigns in March

(WASHINGTON, DC) — The Christian Lebanese Foundation in the World (CLFW) announced it would host ten registration campaigns for Lebanese citizenship this March.

CLFW says there are many political, business, and social advantages to becoming a Lebanese citizen, including the right to vote in municipal and legislative elections, and the right to own and inherit property.

The organization adds that registration also helps maintain religious pluralism in Lebanon, by protecting minority religions in the country and providing them with equal governmental representation.

“The religious conviviality is the true mission and vocation of our country,” said Nada Abisamra, director of the DC-based organization. “What we need is to get each Lebanese descendant who has the right to be registered in the official registry of Lebanon to do so.”

The Arab American Institute estimates that 3.3 million Americans are of Lebanese descent, and the majority are Christian, including Maronite Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Eastern Catholic.

CLFW hopes to add hundreds of new citizens to Lebanon’s official records in March. They plan to host registration campaigns in 9 cities across the country:

  • Cleveland, Ohio – March 4, 2015 – St. Maron Church – 1245 Carnegie Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44115
  • Tampa, Florida – March 7, 2015 – St. Peter and Paul Maronite Catholic Church – 6201 Sheldon Road, Tampa, FL 33615
  • Phoenix, Arizona – March 7 & 8, 2015 – St. Joseph Maronite Catholic Church – 5406 E Virginia Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85008
  • San Francisco, California – March 13, 14, & 15, 2015 – Our Lady of Lebanon – 600 El Camino Real, Millbrae, CA 94030
  • Encino, California – March 15, 2015 – Holy Martyrs Armenian Church – 5300 White Oak Avenue, Encino, CA 91316
  • Easton, Pennsylvania – March 15, 2015 – Our Lady of Lebanon – 55 S 4th St, Easton, PA 18042
  • Cincinnati, Ohio – March 15, 2015 – St Anthony of Padua Maronite Church – 2530 Victory Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45206
  • Livonia, Michigan – March 22, 2015 – St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Church – 32765 Lyndon Street, Livonia, MI 48154
  • Las Vegas, Nevada – March 22, 2015 – St. Sharbel Catholic Church – 10325 Rancho Destino Rd, Las Vegas, NV 89183

Interested applicants are urged to bring their citizenship documents, which include a Lebanese family civil registry, marriage certificate, and birth certificate(s).

For more information, visit clfw.org.


Orthodox priest calls for religious unity after Chapel Hill massacre

(LIVONIA, MI) — An Orthodox priest from Michigan is condemning the Chapel Hill massacre and calling on religious leaders to unify in memory of the three Muslim students killed.

The students, who attended the University of North Carolina, were found dead Tuesday night after a 46-year-old gunman shot them execution style in the head outside of their condominium complex.

Father George Shalhoub of the Basilica of Saint Mary Antiochian Orthodox church in Livonia, Mich. said he was “heartbroken” by the news.

“It is with great sadness and human brokenness; we heard of the Chapel Hill massacre and saw the lives of three young people knocked away by the hand of an outraged man,” he said.

The victims were identified as Deah Shaddy Barakat, 23, of Chapel Hill, Yusor Mohammad Abu-Salha Barakat, 21, of Chapel Hill, and Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, of Raleigh.

Deah Barakat, a dental school student, was planning a medical mission trip Syria to aid Syrian refugees next summer.

Shalhoub, who is of Syrian descent, said the world lost “dreamers, scientists, (and) peacemakers” through the tragedy.

“This vicious act of violence and inhumanity, whether at the hands of the military, terrorists or hate groups, must be dealt with the strongest reaction in awakening human consciousness to live as God has asked us to be — peacemakers, good neighbors and bridge builders,” he said.

RELATED: Three Muslim students killed in North Carolina. Read more.

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