Speech of Rector Sélim Abou s.j., on the occasion of the patronal celebration of Saint Joseph's University, 19 March 2002

The tragedy which took place in the heart of New York on 11 September 2001 suddenly brought to an end two contradictory interpretations of the globalisation process. The two interpretations had until then marked a clear divide in the opinion of American political scientists on the basis of the two rival watershed books, The End of History by Francis Fukuyama, and The Clash of Civilisations by Samuel Huntington, which appeared in French in 1997.

The end of history would be the end of regional and international antagonisms which are its engine, and the advent of perpetual peace which is its finality, thanks to the global expansion of the principles of liberal democracy. The clash of civilisations would be the confrontation, on a global level, of sets formed by cultures which are generally close, and which deployed over seven or eight large rival civilisations, the most antagonistic amongst which being Islam and the West.

Despite the events of September 11, 2001, the author of The End of History "believes ultimately to still be right", because liberal democracy is, according to him, "the system most compatible with human nature", and local wars and terrorist acts, however violent they may be, "will not have a durable impact on the course of events". That such thoughts belong to the realm of utopia is beyond doubt. Kant had the last word, in posing perpetual peace not as the inevitable end to the course of history, but as a regulating ideal of the behaviour of ideas and nations.

As for the author of The Clash of Civilisations, he now prefers taking some distance towards his thesis. For him, the September 11 events are not "a clash between Islam and the West,… but a war between an extensive terrorist network, active in sixty countries, made up by organisations which do not hesitate to kill innocent civilians, and civilisation as a whole. It is rather a conflict between civilisation and barbarism." He then underlines the difference between terrorist Islamism and Islam: "I am not an expert in the Qur'an, but those who are say that Islam makes a distinction between just and unjust wars, does not allow the killing of civilians, women and children, and prohibits suicide."

The two contradictory visions meet however on one point. Whether it represents the compulsory destiny of all other civilisations or whether it stands in conflict with them, Western civilisation perceives itself and is perceived as the site par excellence of modernity. One must understand presently globalised terrorism as a massive reaction against the values of modernity. The idea is obviously not new. Already in 1986, I had written the following: "The deadly policy that Third World fundamentalists adopt towards the West is at the same time a suicidal policy. They can claim a radical renewal, but the subversion they practise is essentially regressive. It is the same return to the most jaded traditions and the same rejection of the values of modernity which all the Islamists of the Middle East advocate, whether they limit themselves to illustrating their discourse with Qur'anic themes or whether they don it with the garb of a type of Western leftism. There is much to gage that within Islam, this active and frightful minority represents less the ferment of some Reconquista than the last outburst on deathbed before the imperatives of a modernity which cannot be withheld forever. There remains that the agony can last a long time and cause much mayhem."

The two contradictory visions of The End of History and of The Clash of Civilisations also meet on another point: the necessity to promote dialogue between various civilisations. Implicit in the first book, the idea is explicit in the second: "At the end of my book," Huntington reminds us, "I affirm that it is extremely important to identify and reinforce the values common to all civilisations. It is equally essential to engage in a dialogue between them." In the present circumstances, the priority is to dialogue between Islam and the West. In this perspective, Lebanon has an important mission to accomplish, since it is built on Islamic-Christian coexistence where values of Islam and Western values interact daily in the collective conscience. But official Lebanon does not hear, does not speak, does not see; it appears without any concern other than aligning its discourse with that of the dominant State.

If I have entitled this talk "the wrath of the university", it is to express the repeated indignation of so many students, teachers and citizens before Lebanon's inertia: its absence on the international scene, at a time when its cultural legacy and national experience should allow it to enlighten, to the benefit of Arabs, the complex relationship between modernity and religion; its helplessness on the national scene, at a time when the world situation compels it to build a State in conformity with the demands of modernity; its submissiveness to the dominant State, which prevents it from fulfilling the conditions of a modern State and forces it into regression. These are the three themes which I propose to your reflection.

Modernity and religion
In an essay on the philosophy of Eric Weil, entitled Figures of Violence and Modernity, Gilbert Kirscher explains that modernity is essentially a political concept which applies to society and to the State, and that the anthropological foundation of modernity is the emergence of the individual as subject. In modern society the individual appears not only as the conscience of a social mechanism which conditions him, but as conscience of an unconditional freedom, which seeks to tame the universe of social mechanism and to accept its meaning. But freedom can do so only if it agrees to renounce violence and to choose reason. The reconciliation of freedom and reason, which is never definitive, is the modern task par excellence. The universal in rational freedom, of freedom reconciled with reason, has for principle "the equality of reasonable and free beings", a principle which defines natural freedom. This principle is made explicit in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is universal in both terms: it is universal as of right, because all men are born equal and are endowed with the same dignity; it is universal in fact, in so far as its legitimacy is recognised by the immense majority of States.

To this qualification is posed the complex relation between modernity and religion, which bears on the root question of natural law: is it religious or secular ? This is a question to which Lebanon can provide an answer, because if it is the only democratic State of the Arab Near East - or at least has the formal structures of such a democracy -, and mostly because its Constitution doesn't recognise any State religion but requests the respect of all. Which absolute does it then refer to ? Precisely to "principle of the equality of rational and free beings". This principle, modern Lebanon has undergone its apprenticeship under the mandate of France, a country which is rightly considered a champion of human right; it then adhered to it with such determination that, at the beginning of Independence, it had the significant privilege to participate actively in drafting the 1948 Declaration, notably with Charles Malek, together with Australia, Chile, China, the United States, France, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union.

As a whole, Lebanese society is now suffused with the ideal of human rights, as is shown in the robust protests that the majority of intellectuals, students, political parties and organisations express against the abusive actions of some State agencies, against their attempts to trample people's dignity, and against their tendency to push the regime over to a dictatorship that does not dare say its name. Whereas before the war, at least until the sixties, it was the State which was trying to introduce, in a society barely out from its feudal past, the principles of modernity, i.e. democracy, it pertains now to society, at least its enlightened members, to elicit the modern-becoming of the State.

A phenomenon, itself old, has taken over the past decades an unprecedented importance, here as elsewhere: Islamic fundamentalism, which puts into question the fundamental dimension of human rights. One could summarise the argument as follows: the basis of human rights cannot be man himself, whether one talks of rational conscience or, what is ultimately the same, of transcendental being. The ultimate basis can only be the transcending Being par excellence, God creator of the world and of man. It is therefore religion which comes first and not reason. There is in this argument, irrespective of whether its formulation is express of implicit, an irrational confusion between God and religion: God belongs to no religion. As the Scripture says: "What is in God, no one knows, except for God's Spirit (1 Co 2, 11)." Religions are diverse approaches to the divine or the absolute. To that extent, they may be particular.

Through history, religions have more than once committed the mistake of taking their universalist vocation for a de facto universalism. It is a mistake of this sort which, during the Middle Ages, at the time of the Inquisition, justified the expulsion of the Jews, the persecution of the Albigensians or the castigation of any Catholic considered devious. The dignity of man was measured with his strict fidelity to the doctrine of the Church. In 1981, the Islamic Council for Europe fell in a similar mistake by pretending to substitute to the Universal Declaration of 1948 an "Islamic Universal Declaration of Human Rights." The terms of this Declaration are contradictory in word and fact. It suggests that the non-Muslim does not benefit from the same dignity as the Muslim, that he is at best tolerated and protected by Islam. For Islamists, the non-Muslim does not even deserve protection, he must be fought. This is the meaning of their repeated attempts to mobilise Muslim countries and draw them into a "holy war" against the West, which is perceived as a coalition of interests between Christians and Jews.

What the Enlightenment protagonists undertook in the 18th Century, who elaborated the "Declaration of the rights of man and of citizen", is to read directly into the rational conscience of man "that conscience of the self which is one and the same in each conscience", and is inscribed universally. This naturalisation of the rights of man has the advantage of obliging any man whomever he is, whereas its Jewish, Christian, Muslim or other expression does oblige none but the respective followers of these religions. The rights of man appear therefore as the minimum ground for any religious legislation.

It is true nonetheless that the religious neutrality of human rights, while conferring upon them absolute universalism, can impoverish them by referring solely to their mere transcendental subjectivism and by dissociating them from their transcendental source. So religion comes normally to deepen and enrich human rights: the biblical notion of "justice", the Qur'anic notion of "mercy", the notion in the Gospels of "loving yours your neighbour, even your enemy", go well beyond the mere legal respect of the person as stipulated in the Universal Declaration of 1948. Ultimately, if it is substituted to the universal basis of human rights, which concerns the dignity of any human being whomever he may be - man or woman, black or while, believer or atheist, wealthy or poor -, religion can only produce discrimination, the rejection of the other, and eventually a hatred of the racist type. If, to the contrary, it respects the natural basis of human rights, it enhances its practice with a supernatural fervour which transforms the respect for the other, whomever he may be, and the love for the other, whomever he may be.

There remains the issue of putting into question the universality of human rights in the name of the relativity of cultures generally. How to reconcile the universal values deriving from human rights and the particular values which are specific to diverse cultures ? As is noted by a specialist of international law, the answer cannot come from intransigent relativists, nor from absolute universalists: "There are situations which it is difficult to solve if one starts from one or the other of these extreme positions." He takes as example marriage, which is monogamous in some legislations and polygamous in others; the rights to life with as a consequence the abolition of the death penalty, which is recognised in some States and rejected in others; finally religious liberty, with as a consequence the right to change religion, which is admitted in most countries and considered as a crime in some others.

To this problem, the eminent jurist Jacques-Yvan Morin finds an answer in intercultural dialogue, which can make positive legislation that is specific to various countries evolve towards the needs of natural law and the human rights which derive from it: "Legal anthropology calls for intercultural dialogue, which is based on an exchange in which one tries to understand the conception of the other's view from within. One must then place one's self in the other's perspective, which isn't easy … It is necessary to find in conceptions other than ours what goes towards the dignity of the human being. In other words, universality must be plural and modest, the fruit of humble progress and of infinite patience. I insist this is in no way cultural relativism. Pol Pot was not right, even if his system appears coherent."

By affirming that universality must be "the fruit of humble progress and of infinite patience," Morin meets the Preamble to the 1948 Declaration, which introduces the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction."

Evidently in Lebanon, as elsewhere in more advanced democracies, the gap between the ideal of which the Preamble of the Declaration speaks and between political reality is considerable. This does not only concern the repeated violations of human rights by agencies of the State, but more profoundly the legal dispositions which go against fundamental rights, and of political mora which simple reason condemns. The ones and the others are related to religious belonging, as it is lived sociologically. I do not intend to make an inventory of these dispositions and acts, but I will underline the political immaturity from which they derive.

The State and modernity
In official speeches, there is constant reference to "the rule of law and institutions". One does not know whether the formula, which is constantly reiterated, constitutes a declaration of intent which expresses the wish to fulfil the conditions of a State ruled by law, or whether it is a statement of fact which suggests that these conditions have already been fulfilled. In truth, both hypotheses have little meaning: the state of fact is far from any rule of law, and the intent to meet the needed conditions is contradicted by the political behaviour of the regime.

The Lebanese State is formally endowed with all the institutions of a parliamentary democracy, but it is only very poorly a State ruled by law. Democratic institutions are originally fragile because of the variety of legal systems regulating personal status. Neither the mandatory power, between 1920 and 1943, nor the independent State after 1943 have been capable of overcoming the archaism inherited from the Ottoman empire and imposing on all communities, in the fundamental world of family ties, a unified civil code. If, in some areas of personal status, mostly in the field of inheritance, Christian communities have adopted the legislation of civil codes, the Muslim and Druze communities stick to the letter of their respective religious rights.

In some Muslim countries, where the State allows itself to interpret religious precepts, personal status has known significant changes, as in Tunisia, or at least adjustments to modern life, as in Egypt. In contrast, any evolution has remained prohibited for three-quarters of a century. Here is a transformation of sectarian allegiances into absolute mode, a transformation of which I had developed, three years ago in this very place, the negative repercussions on citizenship. One no doubt understands that, within this delicate field of family ties, which is laden with profoundly rooted traditions, the application of human rights may be the fruit of a slow and patient progress, but it is not possible to accept fixity and sclerosis that underline a heavy indifference towards fundamental rights.

The immutability of various personal statuses consecrates the inequality between the citizens and harms their individual freedom. Whereas they are equal in the economic and professional field, which is governed by the code of obligations and contracts, they are not equal in the field of family life, which is governed by a multiplicity of religious rights, with variations in substance between one community and another. Because of this, they do not enjoy the freedom which democracy normally recognises to the individual as such, independently from his family and communitarian ties; citizens are not recognised as individuals, but as members of a given community, somewhat similar to Ancient Greece, where the free citizen was identified merely by his family and tribe. There is more. To these various levels of inequality, all family legislation in Lebanon consecrates the inequality between man and woman. A woman has practically no existence as an autonomous person, she is considered as the property of the family. It is because of this primitive conception that criminal law grants to date extenuating circumstances for crimes of honour.

It seems illusory to hope that Lebanon will follow one day the example of Tunisia which, out of a deep concern for modernity, did not hesitate to forbid polygamy and repudiation, to establish a civil code for marriage, successions and adoption, and to dissociate nationality from religious belonging. But at least we could, and should, follow the example of some countries of Black Africa to which Pierre Gannagé appropriately draws our attention: "In some multi-sectarian nations, where different ethnic groups which are profoundly attached to their ancestral customs and traditions coexist, the State has considered useful - out of concern for the need to modernize and to secure the freedom of conscience -, to introduce, next to traditional rights, an optional civil legislation which could be adopted by the citizens of the various ethnic groups. A legislative option is therefore granted to the various families that get formed, and they can choose to be governed either by traditional or by modern law." Finding the courage to undertake a similar approach means, for Lebanon, a creative way to apply human rights without harming religious sensitivities, instead of opposing them, because of some fear mechanism, with obstinacy.

On the other hand, the establishment of an optional civil legislation in the field of personal status would constitute a prelude to a progressive deconfessionalisation of mentalities, without which any political deconfessionalisation would be a hoax and a perverted manner to force unto the administration the law of numbers. No one ignores that competence as a criterion so often put forward by officials has practically no weight. A struggle for influence controls instead the poles of power, so that each official can wrench off the highest quota for the sake of his supporters, usually people from the same sect. It would have been the same if, instead of being communities defined by religion, our communities were defined linguistically. Confessionalism has nothing to do directly with religion as such; it is in fact a clientelist phenomenon, a late form of tribalism. One should also add that the dominant State is the one which, through the poles of power, puts in place its own clients.

Made fragile by personal status, which since childhood, roots the subject in his community to the detriment of his insertion into the nation; undermined by fights for influence amongst the poles of power which get carefully nurtured by the agents of the dominant country; discredited by mafia-like practices which defy understanding, the Lebanese State is one governed by law only in name. There remains the intention to establish such a State. It is one matter for this intention to be blocked by clientelism and corruption, another matter for it to be opposed by the State that pretends to make it real. What ultimately is a State governed by law ? In the words of Jacques-Yvan Morin, "the State is governed by the rule of law means that the State is the 'instrumental' guarantor of freedoms and democracy: without this set of rules, recourses, procedures, mechanisms and institutions which are needed to control power in all its forms and to protect the rights of individuals, its effectiveness cannot be secured." A State that adamantly represses the freedom of expression of young people, that smothers the yearning for their country's independence and sovereignty, that delivers them to the blows of secret agents and rifle butts of soldiers, that drags them through the justice system before corrupt or manipulated judges, that makes them despair to the point of emigration, such a State contradicts by definition the rule of law. One must add that the intention to establish the rule of law in Lebanon, even if it were lucid and sincere, is doomed to failure, because it is far from being shared by those who are called, in shame or irony, the decision-makers. It is therefore time to evoke the collusion between the Lebanese and Syrian regimes.

The alienated State
We are told in the higher spheres that we cannot compare Lebanon to civilised countries, that it must be compared to our neighbours, that it is a Third World country, and that its army cannot be touched. There are in this declaration three underlying premises which are as evident as they are worrying. That Lebanon is a Third World country is perhaps a fact, even if there was a time when it did not figure on the list of the developing countries. To whom must a country be compared to evolve and progress, constitute a coherent nation and build the rule of law, but to civilised countries ? On the other hand, if the institutions of the State are underdeveloped, civil society includes a highly cultured elite, from all social strata, which proves its worth in Western countries and elsewhere, because it cannot exercise its competence and prove its worth in Lebanon. It is certain that if emigration continues, Lebanon will sink in an endemic underdevelopment, as is the case in Syria since its elite got dispersed in the world. The second and third affirmations are more serious, because they suggest renouncing both independence and democracy. "We must compare ourselves to the neighbours" means that Syria is the model to follow, starting by the militarisation of the regime. To affirm that "the army cannot be touched" is to authorise it to violate the Constitution, by violating freedom, democracy and human rights.

The "Syrianisation" of Lebanon goes further and has not stopped expanding. To the almost perfect osmosis between the Lebanese and Syrian intelligence services is added the coordination between the two armies, which is in reality the subordination of one to the other. There was a time when our officers used to specialise in France and in the United States. For a decade, they have been completing their formation in Syria, with, in addition, a course in Baathist indoctrination. To military domination is added a political control which is increasingly heavy. By ensuring, through shameless pressure during legislative elections, a majority of deputies who are the more devoted to Syria since they owe it their position, Syria interferes in the nomination of ministers and, under the pretext of maintaining a balance between the powers of the President and the Prime Minister, tends to void each one by way of the other. It is now interfering in the nomination of top civil servants, by supporting on the face of it the excessive sectarian requests of the Speaker. Soon it will only need to interfere in the appointment of janitors who can, after all, be excellent informants.

Being master of domestic Lebanese politics, Syria leaves no initiative to its protégé in foreign affairs. Thus can one sense its unease because of the international prestige of the Lebanese Prime Minister. As for official Lebanon, it has no other strategy but Syria's, with one small difference in that it is content to hold a basic and prudent political discourse and leaves to its occasional Hizbullah allies the utterance of incendiary speech, against the decisions and the recommendations of international decision-makers. No one can deny the victory of the Resistance against the Israeli occupant, but one remembers the embarrassment of both dominant and satellite States when Israel announced its decision to withdraw from South Lebanon: Syria lost in this way its card of pressure against the enemy. Then came the invention of the farms of Chebaa, to legitimise the continuation of hostilities. Syria remained silent, while the Lebanese State defied international instances, sometimes with Quixotian emphasis, by refusing to send the army to the South and by postponing the Chebaa issue to later negotiations. One could even bet that if Israel were to withdraw from that region, some square meters would be found at the border to continue bearing arms.

Meanwhile, and while the Lebanese State and Hizbullah camp on a distinction between resistance and terrorism, Damascus declares its unqualified support to the world alliance against terrorism and even invites the United States to "take advantage of the successful track record of Syria" in this field, in an allusion to the bloody repression of the Muslim brothers at the end of the seventies and beginning of the eighties. In the context of current negotiations between the United States and Syria, it may well be that Damascus commits to control Hizbullah and gets in return the acceptance of a permanent presence in Lebanon. That would after all be only a reediting of the bargaining carried out during the Gulf War. Is it necessary to recall that the so-called strategic alliances of Damascus on Lebanese soil were always directed by circumstances and conjoncture ?

The Islamic Resistance has completed its task by forcing the Israeli occupier to withdraw from South Lebanon, as had Christian resistance completed its task in defeating the American project to transform Lebanon in a replacement country for the Palestinians. It is time to overcome those communitarian resistances with a national call, and engage in a real national resistance, democratic and consensual, that seeks to free Lebanon from all vassalage. On 19 March 2001, I was happy to underline the consensus which was anticipated by such outstanding personalities representing the large historic communities - Patriarch Sfeir, Walid Joumblatt, Alia el-Solh, Imam Shamseddin - as well as courageous citizens from these communities. Today that consensus has reached the political arena, and is expressed in political movements such as the meetings of Kornet Chahwan, the Democratic Forum, the Democratic Renewal, in which the Muslim component remains timid, at a time when Muslims - we know it and hear it in private - bear with at least as much pain Syrian control over economic and political life in Lebanon.

Syria, by way of its officials, wants the world to believe that "Syrian politics in Lebanon is not a policy of interference," that "Syrian presence is at the service of the Lebanese," and that those who question it "represent tiny groups." These simple slogans are orchestrated on the ground, with a stunning profusion of lies and maneuvres, by the associated intelligence agencies, by the two political parties supportive of Greater Syria, finally by the loyalists, whether they are convinced, or forced, or whether they have an interest. In this field, imagination overflows and bad faith is transparent. To ask for Syrian withdrawal is to stab Syria in the back, it is also to undermine the unity of the nation and to rekindle the fantasies of the civil war. And if non-violent students were attacked last August before the Justice Palace it was, they also say, because the students were plotting against the security of the State and wanted, with the support of the Israelis, elicit the division of the country !

To intellectual terrorism are joined various threats and maneuvres to intimidate. Pressure is exercised and promise made to some members of the Kornet Chahwan group, student leaders are threatened with jail sentences, with physical aggression, with car accidents, or with the dismissal of their father from his job in the civil service. Tracts are distributed in some Muslim neighbourhoods which call for sectarian hatred directed at Christians, who are made guilty of crimes against the protectorate. Finally, and without fear of ridicule, is organised the emergence near some mosques of hooded groups, armed with clubs, kitchen knives and hatchets. In an article on "the hatchets of dialogue", Issa Ghorayeb writes appropriately that "we will have put in the same bag those who request the opening of a non-violent and salutary dialogue, with a view to bringing some balance to the Syrian-Lebanese relations, and those who seek recourse in the - armed - threat to prevent any dialogue." Should one add that if the beatings at the Justice Palace had an objective, it was to force into oblivion the historic reconciliation between Druzes and Maronites, which was sealed by the triumphant visit of Patriarch Sfeir to the Chouf, and to block the national dialogue that it augured. It is the head of the Baath party, known for his courtesy, who summarised the infamous campaign: "They can die if they want, Syria will not leave Lebanon so long as General Emile Lahoud remains President of the Republic."

Three conditions seem necessary for the movements forming the opposition to turn into a real national Resistance against Syrian occupation. The first is to widen their base by including an ever larger number of Muslims. The second is to establish amongst themselves a tighter coordination by conceiving together a comprehensive and sustained plan for action. The third is to let a common voice be heard by Western countries which can put pressure on Syria, so that it operates a real redeployment of its troops in anticipation of their full withdrawal, and not a make-belief as the one which gave false hopes last June, and which had no other apparent objective than the good will of France on the eve of the official visit of the Syrian head of State to Paris. It is not enough to request the phased withdrawal of Syrian troops and their intelligence services. The opposition, which I wilfully call Resistance, has the right to request the departure of the Syrian "High Commissioner" and his followers, as well as an exchange of ambassadors between the two countries.

I would like to end on a note of hope. I borrow the arguments from two first-rate personalities, one Sunni and the other Druze, if I may quote them extensively. Mrs Alia el-Solh starts with a complaint: "We live today the syndrome of Year I of the dictator, when a new military regime seeks to obliterate the past and to establish new principles and new reference points. Saddest is the fact that the dictator we have is not even Lebanese. It is as if the history of Lebanon started today with the entrance of the Syrians in Lebanon. For present-day officials, Lebanon does not exist on its own any longer. One says from now on 'Lebanon-of-which-Syria-is-sister'. Similarly, one sounds ridiculous when speaking of independence and freedom." But Alia el-Solh also states: "When there are seventeen different confessions, there is one possible master, liberty… One is born here with the idea of coexistence, and hence the idea of liberty." Then her thought goes to the young people: "In Lebanon, when they reach the age of eighteen, young people only think about emigrating. It is a bit early for despair. When one thinks that Lebanon was the land of happiness… There was here a quality to life that existed nowhere else. I would like to tell the story of that Lebanon to the young people, so that they feel nostalgic about it and have the will to fight for its recovery."

As for Minister Marwan Hamadé, he addressed directly the graduates of the medical school at Saint Joseph's University : "I talk to you tonight after having travelled in all regions and joined my family to all communities. I have drawn from my Lebanese experience, both in its successes and failures, a lesson that I give you for having learnt it well. Lebanon is worth being loved for what it is. It deserves to be lived for what it offers. It demands to be defended for what it embodies… Do not let yourself get intimidated by threats from wherever they come, nor destabilised by fanaticism from all sides, nor discouraged by the fundamentalisms around us… In order to get a durable result, democratic and popular pressure must continue, widen, and amplify. To turn back on it today, to fold, to abandon is the equivalent in our case to a crime of non-assisting a person in danger. Because Lebanon is in danger, its elites, of which you are part, must remain close by. Even if we are all being tapped, classified, spied upon, we must, you must hold on. The salvation of Lebanon depends on it. It is the issue of its independence, which must be completed, its sovereignty which must be restored, and its prosperity which needs to be built."

To these strong words, I will add nothing.