With the upcoming election in our beloved Al-Koura, I wanted to share with you a chapter from my first book. I share it to clarify why my wife and I and all family members would be voting for Dr Walid Al-Azar, who represents what we have lived for and will allow our children to have the life we enjoyed in our home country.
This version was not the published version; it is from the first draft. I share it because it reflects the ideals of the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP) and the concept of ‘shared living’ without religious segregation and that all people from all aspects of life can have an atmosphere of love, caring, tolerance, and that regardless of where we come from, we have a common future on our tiny and historic land.
I am sorry for writing in English; living for most of my life outside my native home, has cost me the ability to write proper Arabic but we will post a message in Arabic with the help of my team member Mr George Khalil.
Some background before I present the chapter:
- My father is Ahmad Ajam, from a well-known family with a history in Tripoli and even a small street named after the family ancestors.
- Ahmad is a Moslem name and he was Sunni Moslem
- The Sunni Moslem married to Orthodox woman, my late mother Hosen Salloum. She is from Mashta Al Helou in what is today Syria.
- They raised seven children and many grandchildren; with family members’ marriages into Orthodox, Shia, Sunni, Maronite …
- All of us – the children of a Moslem man – are baptised. My baptism name is Beshara; my baptism father is from Bterram; and my baptism mother is my mother cousin, an Orthodox nun.
- My parent moved from Tripoli in 1958 and adopted Bterram, Al-Koura, as our home and even moved our personal residence (Nu-fouss) to Bterram. Bterram is the town of the late Khalil Salem, the late Charles Malek, Dr Elie Salem, Suhail Khoury, and my humble family.
- We grow up with our neighbours as one large family with no differentiation of religion.
- My wife (Nabila George Aboumrad) comes from an Orthodox father and Maronite mother; my eldest brother married a Maronite and my youngest a Sunni.
We are not a unique family. Maybe what I explained above is rare for Lebanon, but it is not un-common among SSNP families. Can Ahmad and George co-exist in the same family? Can Mohammad, Ali, Mark, Hanna, Boulos, and Hussain share a true friendship without differentiation? We hope so! This one of the reasons Antoun Saadeh gave his life for. This is why in the SSNP Moslems, Druze, and Christians died together defending Lebanon against all type of aggressions. This is why we are the only party in religiously divided Lebanon that its presidents have come from all religious and regional origin.
Al-Koura, can be a role model for all of Lebanon where we break down the ugly barriers, while we continue to respect each other, where we continue to pray in mosques, churches, and other holy places. We are about religious tolerance where people can worship per their belief and they work together to build a NATION. Is not time to say I AM LEBANESE in the true sense of the word?