Thursday, November 17, 2016

Why we all need to be there to honor Ghazi Aad

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We all need to be there on Friday, November 18 at 10am in Downtown Beirut, at the Gibran Khalil Gibran Garden facing the ESCWA building. We all need to be there to say farewell and to honor Ghazi Aad. Why? Because civil society matters. Because Ghazi Aad matters. Because he represents the best Lebanon has to offer: courage, integrity and the unwavering belief in the cause he lived for.

Ghazi Aad was a true Lebanese hero. He loved his country and its people. He loved them so much, he spent his days and nights fighting for those everyone forgot: the Lebanese missing and detained in Syrian prisons. He did it despite everything, despite his handicap, despite the utter disdain of the political establishment, despite the indifference of many of his fellow countrymen and women.

We need to be there to honor him and say: we are here! We the people. To say that the cause Ghazi relentlessly fought for is important to us, and that his legacy will live on. We need to be there to show our support to the families of the missing Lebanese, orphaned by his passing. We need to be there to prove that the death of a civil society figure deserves to be properly mourned.

We also need to be there to support civil society. Because civil society, in all in different forms, often does the job politicians and government institutions gave up on a long time ago. Because without it, Lebanon would be in a much more deplorable state than it is today.

Grab your Lebanese flag or show up empty handed. Come alone or bring your friends, your neighbors and your family. Bring your children and teach them that civil society is an essential part of Lebanon’s future. If you have a nine-to-five job, take an hour off, and convince your coworkers to do the same.

Whatever your political opinions, whatever leader you support, or even if you don’t support anyone, be there. If you were in Baadba in 1990, be there. If you were in Martyrs Square in 2005, be there. If you joined last year’s protests, be there. If you’ve never been to any demonstration and pride yourself to be non-political, be there.

Be there in large numbers. And show anyone who says the Lebanese are sleeping that you are wide-awake and that Lebanon belongs to you. You, man or woman, young or old, rich or poor, christian, muslim or agnostic.

Because you and me, we all are, or should be, Ghazi Aad.

© Claude El Khal, 2016