"Dear Lebanese, you are the heirs of an ancient civilization and culture. This heritage is a legacy and not a choice. It is our duty to preserve it despite all the troubles that we are facing today"
Aoun During National Library Opening: Judicial And Security Institutions Are Capable to Put an End to Violations
04 Dec 2018
Lebanon - President Michel Aoun on Tuesday maintained that the security and judicial institutions were capable of ending violations, whether taking place in words or in deeds, in remakrs made during the opening of the new building of the National Library in Beirut.
Following is the President's speech:
Whoever examines the history of this library, its beginnings, its evolution, its progression and its current state knows what it means when someone believes in a dream and understands the perseverance and determination to make this dream a reality.
In 1919, almost one year after the end of World War I, which caused tragedies, suffering and sorrows around the world in general and in Lebanon in particular, there were those who still had dreams and who were concerned about the importance of preserving the heritage and historical narratives of the time. Philippe de Tarrazi, a historian and writer who valued documents, manuscripts and publications, has thus embarked on a journey of a thousand miles. He started collecting books and archives at home, always looking for more funds and documents to enrich his collection. The library was thus growing and expanding. Numerous leading figures have successively run this library, each leaving his footprint on its structure and making relentless efforts to preserve and improve it. This library witnessed numerous difficulties, events and upheavals in Lebanon that affected it. However, the library has reborn from its ashes and here it is today, a jewel, a source of pride for Lebanon, the culture and history.
I would like to seize this opportunity to thank all those who sponsored and supported the revival of this historical library associated with the memory of the foundation of Lebanon, namely His Highness the Emir of the State of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and his father His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to the Qatari Government for funding the rehabilitation and decoration of our national library, a modern edifice mirroring0 Lebanon's radiant image.
If in the beginning was the Word, it is the letter that allowed this verb to be preserved and not to fall into oblivion. The letter, this wonderful Phoenician invention that gave a sound to the image and an image to the sound, which has put together the eye, the ear and the tongue in a unique coherence thus allowing the language to be written and read. The letter was the vessel that has preserved sciences, culture, thought, civilization and religions. The letter paved the way for writing which allowed the preservation of intellectual, cultural and historical heritage. Thus, we were able to see, listen to and read the past. The letter has unleashed the scientific, literary and artistic creativity through billions of books and publications without which humanity cannot exist.
The world of archiving and documentation is a rich and diverse world. It preserves the fragrance, experience and expertise of the past, carries the present and its events and lays the foundations of the future. It is a witness of history and guardian of memory. Needless to say that a people without memory is a people that repeats its mistakes.
Lebanon, whose name is usually written on the Mediterranean Sea on the world map because of its small size,
Lebanon, which lacks natural resources and wealth,
Lebanon, whose diaspora greatly outnumbers the number of Lebanese residing on its soil,
Lebanon, which constantly pays the price of the surrounding crises and the conflicting international interests, in terms of security, stability and economy,
Lebanon, which is sinking under the weight of the political and economic crises,
This Lebanon has a different face. We cannot allow the ordeals of the present to hide it because we find its facets between the walls of this building. It is the face of the Lebanese creativity that has spoken and written in the languages of the successive civilizations that have taken root on the Lebanese territory. Lebanon has written thought, philosophy and science in Greek, laws and regulations in Latin, enriched Arab literature, thought and philosophy while preserving its authenticity against the wave of turkification, thus leaving its marks on many living languages around the world.
Dear Lebanese, you are the heirs of an ancient civilization and culture. This heritage is a legacy and not a choice. It is our duty to preserve it despite all the troubles that we are facing today, to pass it from one generation to another. We dearly carry in our heart Gibran Khalil Gibran, Elia Abu Madi, Ameen Rihani, Al-Akhtal As-Saghir, Said Akl, Said Taqi al-Din, Amin Taqi Al Din, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Alayli. This list of scholars in the realms of culture, thought and literature that have left their marks on the Lebanese and international intellectual heritage is non-exhaustive.
This image of our country endowed with an ancient cultural heritage and an enlightened thought, is the main driving force behind my proposal submitted to the United Nations and aiming at establishing "the Human Academy for Encounter and Dialogue" in Lebanon. This academy would serve as a platform to promote dialogue among different religions, sects, cultures and races of the world and explore ways to spread the culture of intergenerational dialogue instead of exacerbating isolation, extremism and the rejection of the other, as well as violence, which is raging across our region and the world and causing tragedies.
If we are striving to make Lebanon a forum for dialogue between civilizations, cultures and religions, we need to communicate through a calm and responsible dialogue. The statements delivered in recent days and the ensuing reactions did not harm a person, a party or a group, but did harm to Lebanon as a whole and to all Lebanese without any distinction. These events have almost revived the past, which we will never tolerate. Indeed, the stability enjoyed by Lebanon cannot be targeted by any political party or stakeholder, especially that the judicial and security institutions are capable to put an end to violations, in words or in deed, and are determined to remedy the performance shortcomings, under the leadership of the political class and in line with the applicable laws and regulations. A capable and just state, which we all strive to consolidate, cannot be left to the mercy of actions or reactions, especially if the statements threaten civil peace and offend dignity. Therefore, all the political leaders should be aware of the current critical situation and stand against hostile practices and growing threats in addition to financial and economic losses. It is incumbent upon us all to unite our ranks and to make concerted efforts to ensure a way out of the crisis.
The book, which represents history, civilization, and culture, has always been a challenge to any invasion and occupation force, and to any obscurantist and barbaric thought, throughout the ages and all over the world. Many libraries have been burned and destroyed, resulting in the loss of documents related to a certain period, the destruction of valuable historical and intellectual assets, and the disappearance of irreplaceable manuscripts, thus dealing a hard blow to renaissance, civilization and history.
However, every library that opens its doors, every effort made to save a book, to restore a document, to dust off a manuscript ignite the hope for the victory of enlightenment against obscurantism, civilization against underdevelopment and culture against ignorance. Today, we are witnessing a major step on the road leading to victory.
Long live Lebanon! Long live culture and civilization!"