(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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(DETROIT, MI) — Lebanese-American Fox News contributor Walid Phares was awarded the ‘Pillar of Baalbeck’ award on May 29 by the Lebanese American Chamber of Commerce during its Spring Hafli Grande Banquet at Pi Banquet Hall in Southfield, Mich.
Phares has been a regular guest on Fox News since 2007 as a analyst on terrorism and Middle East policy. He has also testified before committees of the U.S. Congress, European Parliament, and the United Nations Security Council.
300 guests attended the banquet, which also honored singer Odette Kaddo, who died in 1997, according to the Chamber.
“The importance of understanding our history is essential in order to shape our future as it is well documented that Lebanese Americans are teeming with extraordinary potential,” said John Akouri, president of the Chamber.
Notable guests included members of the U.S. House of Representatives, Chicago-based hair transplant surgeon Dr. William Yates, The Bachelorette television star Nick Sutter, FBI Detroit Special Agent-in-Charge Paul Abbate, Consul of Mexico in Detroit Juan Manuel Solana Morales, and member delegations from the United Cedars Foundation, Jordanian American Association, and Future Movement of Michigan.
The event also hosted Lebanese-American author Maureen Abood, who signed copies of her newly-released cookbook, Rose Water and Orange Blossoms, which reveals recipes of her family’s Lebanese favorites.
Fox 2 News anchor Roop Raj served as Master of Ceremonies.
Akouri thanked the Chamber’s sponsors and members for supporting the event and “paving the way” for the next generation of Lebanese-Americans. He also introduced Kamal Shouhayib and Fadi Sankari, who are looking to raise $3 million to install water filtration systems in 1,200 Lebanese schools over the next three years.
The Chamber has 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.
(MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA) — Lebanese-Australian activist Tony Yacoub was honored recently with a Medal of the Order of Australia from Queen Elizabeth II for his “service to the Lebanese community.”
Yacoub, 63, has served as president of the World Lebanese Cultural Union (WLCU) in Australia and New Zealand since 2011, and previously from 2004 to 2009.
“I’m really, really proud and honored to receive the Order of Australia medal for my service to the Lebanese community, not only in Victoria but all of Australia and New Zealand,” Yacoub told Melbourne-based newspaper The Herald Sun.
The Queen’s official memorandum cited Yacoub’s efforts at WLCU, Royal Children’s Hospital Good Friday Appeal, and Victorian Bush Fire Appeal, among others.
Yacoub was also recognized as an active parishioner at the Our Lady of Lebanon Maronite Parish in Victoria for over 30 years.
The Herald Sun reports that Yacoub underwent seven operations between March and November 2014, leaving Yacoub recovering for months.
Nonetheless, he continued his role as WLCU president — organizing events, festivals, and award ceremonies to celebrate Lebanese emigrants.
“I was running all the activities from my mobile phone from text messages and emails,” he said.
Yacoub immigrated to Australia in 1974 with his parents and siblings, and worked at picture frame shops for 33 years.
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(MONTREAL, QUEBEC) — Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil on Sunday inaugurated the revamped Lebanese General Consulate in Montréal, Québec during a visit to Canada’s second largest city.
Bassil celebrated the Lebanese-Canadian community and called it a “model” for other countries with large Lebanese populations to follow.
The inauguration was attended by Lebanese Forces MP Fadi Karam, Lebanon’s Ambassador to the United States Antoine Chedid, and other Lebanese consuls in North America.
Bassil said the five consulates in North America were “not enough,” explaining the Lebanese government was facing a “shortage” in serving Lebanese diaspora communities. He also called on the restoration of the Lebanese nationality law.
“This indicates our shortcomings towards our citizens,” he said. “Despite this, (the Lebanese) still love their homeland and have an attachment to Lebanon.”
The 2011 Census of Canada identified 190,000 Canadians who claimed Lebanese ancestry, but independent population studies say the number hovers over 250,000.
Bassil said Consul General of Lebanon in Montréal Fadi Ziadeh has 75,000 files of registered Lebanese citizens.
For his part, Ziadeh thanked Bassil and the inauguration committees on the occasion, and congratulated the Lebanese-Canadian community on their new facility.
“This building will be a meeting place for Lebanese youth, expatriates, and businessmen — and a cultural oasis and reality that reflects Lebanon,” he said.
About half the Lebanese-Canadian community is located in Montréal, and most Lebanese-Canadian organizations, especially religious ones, are based in the city. Immigrant groups historically preferred to settle in French-speaking cities, according to the Census.
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(WASHINGTON, DC) — The International Association to Save Tyre (AIST) hosted a full-day symposium on Wednesday at the U.S. Library of Congress in Washington, DC to discuss the group’s efforts to protect the historic site.
Founded in 1980 at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris, AIST’s primary mission is to raise awareness of the cultural site in south Lebanon, which dates back to 2750 BC.
“Although many may just consider Tyre another piece of real estate in Lebanon, there are critical interests at stake here – especially moral and cultural.” said David Killion, former U.S. Ambassador to UNESCO.
Tyre was designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1984, but developmental threats have long endangered the natural archeological history in the area.
Construction sites in 2011 came under fire for reportedly interfering with “archeologically-sensitive” areas in Tyre, including a highway project that would directly impact the site.
During the 2006 war, UNESCO’s director-general launched a ‘heritage alert’ for the site to prevent hostilities between Israel and Lebanon from damaging the ancient city.
The DC-symposium said Tyre was vulnerable to potential construction projects and future violence that could damage the city’s ancient ruins.
Dr. Maha el-Khalil Chalabi, who founded AIST, said preserving the Phoenician history of Tyre calls for global support.
“I will use my position as the head of the International Association to Save Tyre to preserve the city’s Phoenician legacy in every possible way,” she said. “This includes the rehabilitation and the promotion of its cultural and economic history.”
The ancient Phoenicians created one of the world’s first alphabets and the first democracy in the world with a parliament and senate elected directly by the citizens. Tyre is the legendary birthplace of Europa, the daughter of the King of Tyre, the namesake of Europe.
U.S. Representative Charles Boustany (R-LA) spoke at the symposium, which expected 1,000 guests from around the world. The five-day conference includes visits to the White House, and a private dinner hosted by Lebanese Ambassador to the United States Antoine Chedid.
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(DETROIT, MI) — Federal prosecutors are calling Michigan Lebanese cancer doctor Farid Fata one of the most fraudulent physicians in American history for allegedly misdiagnosing patients with cancer to bill their insurance companies.
The U.S. government says 553 patients were put through unnecessary treatments by Fata, who has pleaded guilty to fraud. This is the first time prosecutors assigned a specific number to the case.
In a sentencing memorandum from May 28, the U.S. Attorney’s office says Fata “is the most egregious fraudster in the history of the country, measured not only by the millions of dollars he stole but by the harm he inflicted on his victims, over 550 identified so far.”
Prosecutors are asking for life in prison — up to a maximum 175 years. Fata’s six cancer centers were closed in August of 2013.
“Rather than healing or easing the suffering of the cancer patients and other who sought his help, Fata administered thousands of unnecessary treatments — a variety of chemical infusions and injections, all with potentially harmful and even deadly side effects —to the patients who entrusted him with their care. He did it entirely for his own benefit,” prosecutors wrote.
Sources say his wife and children left the country and are currently living in Lebanon. His wife was the CFO of Fata’s medical company, but her name is not mentioned in the case.
Fata was reportedly looking at luxury investment opportunities along the Jounieh coastal area in Lebanon in 2010, according to released email exchanges between Fata and his financial advisor.
“I need a favor from you,” Fata wrote in one exchange. “My dad has a great deal on a castle all furnished in Adma/Lebanon!”
The castle was $3,000,000, according to email records. It is unclear whether he ever purchased the property, but investigators believe the alleged emails could trace to more information about his “numerous trusts.”
Prosecutors said Fata, who pleaded guilty to healthcare fraud, told “thousands upon thousands of lies” to “cajole, frighten, and deceive his patients.”
His case was also compared to that of notorious Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, but prosecutors said Fata’s crimes were worse, due to the “scope, duration, and enormity of the fraud.”
Fata’s sentencing hearing will take place before U.S. Judge Paul Borman on July 6. The hearing is expected to last more than a week.
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