Thursday, November 23, 2006

Christian dynasty loses rising star

From the Australian, November 23, 2006 ....

BEIRUT: Assassinated cabinet minister Pierre Gemayel was a rising star in one of Lebanon's leading political dynasties. Gemayel's grandfather, Pierre, founded the Falange party, at one time the leading Christian political body. His uncle, Bashir, was assassinated in a bomb blast in September 1982, days before being sworn in as president.

Speaking to reporters outside the hospital, a shocked Amin Gemayel, Pierre's father and former Lebanese president, called on supporters not to react to the killing with violence. "I would like to ask those who loved Pierre to preserve the cause. We don't want to do anything instinctively," he said. "He was serving the cause and he died for Lebanon, for freedom and humanity and we should not tarnish his memory by any irresponsible acts."

The Falangists fielded the largest Christian militia during Lebanon's 1975-90 civil war between Christians and Muslims, allying themselves first with Syria, and then with Israel during that country's invasion and occupation of the country.

The Gemayel family has been enmeshed in the past three decades of bloodshed between Lebanon's divided communities.

A 1975 assassination attempt against Mr Gemayel's grandfather prompted the Falangists to attack a busload of Palestinian refugees in a slaughter that sparked a 15-year sectarian war.
After Bashir Gemayel was killed in 1982, militiamen stormed Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, killing hundreds of civilians.

Several years earlier, an 18-month-old daughter of Bashir was killed in an attack targeting him. Two nephews of Bashir and Amin were also killed during fighting in the 1980s.

The younger Pierre Gemayel was elected to parliament in 2000, and again in the 2005 elections that brought an anti-Syrian majority to the legislature.


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