Lebanon Victims of the Ottoman rule – Picture taken in Lebanon via Annahar

A couple of Beiruti associations and organizations, as well as few Sunni groups in Tripoli, rejected Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s decision “to shut down public and private schools on the occasion of the so-called Armenian genocide, and claimed that the genocide is a subject of historical dispute and lacks national consensus”. The Turkish flag was even raised in Tripoli to show support.

I don’t know what’s wrong with these people, but it’s quite shameful and pathetic to hear that some Lebanese don’t acknowledge a genocide that is documented in historical books, studies, novels and documentaries. Even the Turks acknowledged last year the killing of hundreds of thousands of Armenians at the hands of Ottoman Turks but still refused to call it a genocide.

Moreover, I think someone should remind these groups of Lebanon’s dark days of hunger during the Ottoman Rule, when General Jamal Pasha “instituted an internal blockade of cereals to enter Mount Lebanon, particularly the Christian Maronite Canton (Kaemmakam) that included the current districts of Kesrowan and Betroun. Consequently, the Lebanese could not receive wheat and cereals from the district of Akkar and the Bekaa Valley”. It is estimated that Mount Lebanon lost between 20 and 30% of its population and some sources claim that it was the highest death toll by population of the First World War. I know for a fact that the towns of Abidlleh and Chabtine lost more than 40 or 50% of its residents back then and cases of cannibalism were reported. Of course the severe drought and locusts that hit Lebanon made things worse but the suffocating internal blockade by the Ottomans did the most damage.

One of the many sources I found on this dark era is from “The Famine of 1915-18 in Greater Syria” book that mentions “500,000 victims of famine and related to famine in Syria and Lebanon, 200,000 of them died in Mount Lebanon, particularly in the districts of Byblos and Batroun and Tripoli”. If this is accurate, this means Tripoli also suffered from the Ottoman rule just like all of Lebanon did, and these groups should be condemning Turkey for these actions and what they did to the Armenian people as well.

Here’s an excerpt taken from a letter by Gibran Khalil Gibran to Mary Haskell dated May 26, 1916: “The famine in Mount Lebanon has been planned and instigated by the Turkish government. Already 80,000 have succumbed to starvation and thousands are dying every single day. The same process happened with the Christian Armenians and applied to the Christians in Mount Lebanon”. Also there’s an [article] written by Annahar on this matter, pictures and references I found on the AUB website, and this [article] that quotes several sources on the famine that hit Lebanon between 1915 and 1918.

A coalition of Sunni organizations in Beirut Tuesday condemned a decision by Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to close private and public schools on April 24 in observance of the Armenian genocide, saying it might torpedo Turkish efforts to release Lebanese hostages held by ISIS and Nusra Front.

“Beiruti Associations and Organizations rejects Education Minister Elias Bou Saab’s decision to shut down public and private schools on the occasion of the so-called Armenian genocide, given that the anniversary is a subject of historical dispute and the lack of national Lebanese consensus regarding the circumstances [of the events of 1915],” a statement said. [DailyStar]

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أثار قرار وزير التربية الياس بوصعب بالتعطيل يوم الجمعة حفيظة البعض في المجتمع الطرابلسي، وفعالياته، رفضاً للقرار. ومن أبرز الهيئات الرافضة للقرار دار الافتاء في طرابلس، وجمعية العزم والسعادة التابعة لرئيس مجلس الوزراء الاسبق نجيب ميقاتي، وهيئة العلماء المسلمين، ودعا عدد من الجمعيات إلى اعتصامات الجمعة استنكارًا لموقف الوزير، ودفاعًا عن تركيا.

وأصدرت “جمعية بيت الزكاة” بيانا طالبت فيه الحكومة اللبنانية بتوضيح حقيقة تبنّيها لقرار الوزير، وأوضح بيانها أن الجمعية “تدين كلّ المجازر التي وقعت في بلادنا العربية والإسلامية أو في العالم”، معلنة في البيان: “سوف نتقدّم من مجلس الوزراء بجدول عن المذابح التي ارتكبت بالأقاليم العربية والإسلامية، وليتحمّل المجلس النتائج، ولتعطل المدارس كل أيام العام الدراسي حدادًا على تلك المجازر”. [Annahar]