Betroun’s “Lebanese-Canadian Immigrant House” is inaugurated on the conference’s third day
Zeinab Ibraheem Merai
Montreal’s Concordia University Professor Hussein Merai:
- This is my second time here. I am impressed, and this time the audience is much bigger, so I expect many more to be here next year.
At this conference, I have suggested a kind of liaison committee. Unfortunately, when most conferences finish, everybody goes back home and forgets about them until the following year. So the liaison committee should continue the work on ground. I think we will come to the point where we see the realisation of many of our hopes.
- Because Islam today is under attack, we have a lot to do to improve its image in the West, especially we, the academics that are in contact with a lot of students from around the world. We have to use the university forum to express the real, tolerant message of Islam. Unfortunately, whatever you do gets wiped out during one terrorist incident, and then you’ll have to start the work all over again.
- Yet, the biggest challenge for us is to do a clean-up within our community.
We have to do so, especially for the young generation in Canada, who are trying to distance themselves when they see all the bad media on Islam. They become apologetic, but we don’t want to apologise for terrorists who are deforming Islam, so what we need is some work inside the community to educate our own youth on the message of Islam so that they can spread it. Not only by word can this be done, but also by action. You know, the blessed Imam Sadeque says, “Do not spread the word of Ahlul Bayt by speech, but by action”.
Actually I have a lot of Jewish colleagues, and we share mutual respect.
Concordia University Professor Hussein Merai (right) with brother
- Whether the publication world needs to see new Muslim books and stories and movies, I think the answer is yes. I usually take the Muslim occasion of Muharram, particularly the first ten days, and this year I’m especially taking this chance to hold a forum in Canada to spread the message of the true Islam that is carried by the blessed Ahlul Bayt, which is the true message of tolerance and respect for others.
The message I want to spread is the universality of the blessed Imam Hussein. He belongs to the entire humanity, and this should be communicated to Muslims just like non-Muslims.
- I just hope that we, Muslims, get out of the ghetto we are engulfing ourselves in. We have to connect with the world today. If we keep seeing ourselves as victims and ghettoing, we will not communicate the message. We need to show the world we are civilised Muslims, professors, engineers… We respect all religions and all nationalities, and we would not plunge into Takfiri movements.
MP el-Khoury (right) with Lebanese MP Ni’matallah Abi Nasr
Feisal el-Khoury, MP for the Laval-Les Îles Riding:
- This is my fourth time I attend the conference. It’s wonderful.
- I have to praise MP Ni’matallah Abi Nasr, who’s a strong fighter for Lebanese citizenship, and as president of the Lebanon-Canada Parliamentary Friendship Committee, he’s going to renew it. It will be exchanging letters, ideas and visits and working in order to improve the relations socially, politically, commercially and any other manner for all aspects of life.
- Regarding the Canadian government stance on Israel and Palestine, I can only say the vision of “two states living side by side in peace” is at the heart of Canadian politics.
- As regards Islamophobia, Canada’s the only country that has made anti-Islamophobia law. So the Canadian Muslim community also has to take a stronger part. I call on all Muslim clergies to prevent and condemn taking part in the ISIS organsiation.
Bassam Nahhas has founed Betroun’s “Lebanese-Canadian Immigrant House”
Founder of the Lebanese-Canadian House Bassam Nahhas:
- Retired from the government, I come from Halifax, Nova Scotia. We’re here for the inauguration of this house in Betroun, and we came through LDE. We initially originated this place, but it is meant for all Lebanese Canadians. It will keep track the history of the Lebanese who’ve travelled to Canada and also share some info on both countries.
- We don’t have a schedule yet, but with time electronic information will be presented on the families that immigrated from Lebanon.
- The house will also feature some information on the Tragedy of the Titanic, on board of which were Lebanese who sank. There will be a model of the ship here. We’re also going to add some furniture to the building.
- Any people willing to learn more about this can contact the Lebanese consulate in Halifax. I have to note this is an infancy stage, and we’ll do one step at a time. We appreciate what Canada has done for us, the Lebanese, and we appreciate what our home country has planted in our DNA.
- We are working on a Lebanese-Canadian student and language exchange initiative, and a committee is going to be formed. The discussion will focus on how both countries will complement each other in education, trade and economy. It, all, will come in with time. We do care about both countries, and we are trying to form packages for immigrants who were born abroad and have no acquaintances here and might not even speak Arabic, so we’re trying to see if we can arrange this package deal, even for non-Canadians, too. Hopefully scholarships and other things can be done to our beautiful country, Lebanon.
USAID: United Sates Agency for International Development
USFS: United States Forestry Service
Biel: Beirut International Exhibition and Leisure Centre
That has not been all. Stay tuned; more’s coming in the next Sada al-Mashrek publication.
Photos: Zeinab Ibraheem Merai, Sada al-Mashrek