Cheikh Malek el-Khazen is heir to the House of Khazen, of the Lebanese nobility. He is also the founder of the Khazen Foundation and Khazen.org. He was kind enough to grant me an interview.
Could you tell us a little bit about your family’s history?
The Khazen can trace back their lineage to the 9th century, when they were mainly located in the Levant. They started acquiring lands from the Muslim Shi’a Tribes in Mount Lebanon during the 1400s and mainly focused their exodus in the Keserwan district. This caused the Chi’a to leave Keserwan and migrate to the South of Lebanon and the Maronites, including clergy, to move to the Keserwan district.
The Khazen families, who were now controlling the Kerserwan district, were very influential with the Catholic Maronite Church. Mainly, this is because of their financial support to the Church and also their help in expanding the Church by the construction of many monasteries. They also offered lands and, most importantly, supplied security to the Church and the Maronite community.
The common ancestor of most of the current members from the Khazen family is Sarkis el-Khazen. Sarkis el-Khazen was famous because he translated the Bible to “Karchouni”, which is an Arab dialect written using the Syriac (very close to Aramaic) alphabet. Sarkis el-Khazen died in 1570, leaving two children, Abou-Sakr and Abou-Safi Rabah, to which all the Khazen branches relate. In 1584, the sons of Sarkis el-Khazen were now very influential and powerful and were able to hide the princes Fakhreddine and Youness in a city of Ballouneh (part of Mount Lebanon). The father of the princes at the time was fighting the Ottoman Empire’s occupation. The young princes grew up under the care and safety of our family. In return, the princes’ father granted our head the title of Cheikh and complete political influence and control of Mount Lebanon.
Since then, our family has played leading roles in governing Mount Lebanon. French King Louis XIV elevated the family to the French nobility and referred to us with the title “Prince of the Maronites” in many letters due to the protection we provided to the Catholic Maronites in the region.
During the 18th and 19th centuries, under the guidance of Cheikh Abou Naufal el-Khazen (and, later on, his sons) the next consuls combined administrative responsibilities with the functions of French consul in all of the area of what was known as “great Lebanon”. The Khazen were successful in spreading the message of the Maronites in Lebanon, in return receiving many papal decorations. They played a unique role in supporting the clergy and strengthened the relationship of the Maronites with France.
There were three important and influential Maronite patriarchs from the Khazen family: Youssef Dargham (1733–1742), Toubia (1756–1766), and Youssef Ragi (1845–1854). There were also seven archbishops. In 1858, Tanios Chahine (a peasant) led a rebellion against the Khazen family, with the help of the Ottoman and English who wanted to increase their influence back in Lebanon. (My mother’s great-uncle, by the way, was the patriarch at the time.) This has caused a great loss of my family’s dominance over the Kerserwan district. Many of our lands were taken by his group.
In modern history, though, we have always represented Lebanon (and, more specifically, Keserwan) by one Parliament Member and, in some cases, two. We have also been represented in many recent governments, where we have held the Interior Ministry and the Ministry of Tourism. My ancestors, also, were all consuls of France.
Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee the northern city of Mosul under threat of forced conversion or execution by jihadists have spoken of their terror as churches were turned into mosques and their homes and property confiscated.
The expulsion of one of the world's oldest Christian communities provoked condemnation and anguish from figures as diverse as the pope and Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who lambasted the Islamic State (Isis) for its "criminality and terrorism".
Last weekend Isis gave the city's Christians a stark choice: convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, or face death. "They said there is no place for Christians in the Islamic state," one distraught refugee said from the safety of Bashiqa, 16 miles from Mosul. "Either you become Muslim or you leave." Mosul's last 1,500 Christian families were reportedly robbed at Isis checkpoints as they fled. [Link]
Hopes grew Friday that Pope Francis will pay his first-ever papal visit to the United States in 2015 after a senior cleric said he'd be attending a major Catholic event in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, speaking to Native American Catholics in North Dakota, said the 77-year-old pontiff had personally confirmed to him that he would attend the eighth World Meeting of Families. "Pope Francis had told me he is coming" to the gathering that is scheduled for September 22-27 next year, he said, quoted by the Catholic News Service. In Washington, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told Agence France-Presse: "The Vatican has not confirmed that." [Link]
في الرابع من الشهرالحالي اصدر رئيس هيئة الصندوق الوطني المركزي للمهجرين قرارا اعطى فيه الاولوية ل "استكمال مصالحة بلدة بريح وتأمين عودة أهاليها إليها". وورد في قراره "حيث أننا نرغب بمعالجة كافة معاملات بلدة بريح بأسرع وقت ممكن وعلى مستوى الصندوق المركزي للمهجرين، وتخفيفاً للروتين الإداري المعمول به بين مختلف المكاتب والأقسام في الصندوق، تعطى الأفضلية في معالجة المعاملات الموجودة في الصندوق المركزي للمهجرين ، لإنجاز معاملات بلدة بريح كأفضلية أولى". وتم تكليف المهندس اسامة مومنة بمتابعة ملف البلدة بجميع تفاصيله على ان يقوم برفع تقارير يومية ويفيد رئيس الصندوق فوراً ومباشرة عن وضع كل طلب أو استفسار لمعالجته بطريقة إيجابية .
Pope Francis has met privately with a Sudanese woman who arrived in Italy after escaping a death sentence in Sudan for refusing to recant her Christian faith.
The Vatican said Pope Francis had "a very affectionate" meeting with Meriam Ibrahim, 27, her husband and their two small children. Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said the pope "thanked her for her faith and courage, and she thanked him for his prayer and solidarity" during the half-hour meeting Thursday. Francis frequently calls attention to the plight of those persecuted for their religious beliefs. Ibrahim arrived earlier in Rome, greeted by Italy's premier, en route to the United States, where her husband has citizenship. Italy along with the United States worked for her release. [Link]
DEIR AL-QAMAR, Lebanon: “The view isn’t so great now, but in the morning ...” The hotel manager, Nadim Zoghbi, trailed off as he showed us to a duplex suite at Deir al-Oumara, a recently restored 19th-century Ottoman-era villa.
Zoghbi pointed into the darkness that surrounded our suite’s long balcony on all sides, toward a village twinkling with light on a neighboring mountaintop. “That’s Baaqlin, where George Clooney’s fiancée is from,” he said.
An ice cream man accused of killing two Irish soldiers in 1980 was arrested Tuesday by U.S. authorities at his Dearborn home on an immigration violation that could lead to his deportation.
Mahmoud Bazzi, 71, will face a removal proceeding next week, said Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the Detroit office of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Walls said Bazzi was arrested without incident about 10:30 a.m.
"اخرجوا يا مسيحيي دمشق ويبرود ومعلولا من أوطاننا، واخرجوا يا مسيحيي الموصل ونينوى وبغداد من بلداننا، واخرجوا يا مسيحيي لبنان من جبالنا وودياننا، واخرجوا يا مسيحيي فلسطين والجزيرة من شواطئنا وترابنا، اخرجوا جميعا من تحت جلودنا، اخرجوا جميعا فنحن نبغضكم، ولا نريدكم بيننا، اخرجوا فقد سئمنا التقدم والحضارة والانفتاح والتسامح والمحبة والإخاء والتعايش والعفو! اخرجوا لنتفرغ لقتل بعضنا بعضا، اخرجوا فأنتم لستم منا ولا نحن منكم، اخرجوا فقد سئمنا كونكم الأصل في مصر والعراق وسوريا وفلسطين، اخرجوا لكي لا نستحي منكم عندما تتلاقى اعيننا بأعينكم المتسائلة عما جرى؟ اخرجوا واتركونا مع مصائبنا، فلكم من يرحب بكم، وسنبقى هنا، بعيدين عنكم وعن ادعاءاتكم ومواهبكم وكفاءاتكم وعلمكم وخبراتكم، اخرجوا واتركونا مع التعصب والبغضاء والكراهية، اخرجوا فقد فاض بنا تحمل ما ادعيتموه من حضارة، فبخروجكم سنتفرغ لإنهائها، ومسح آثارها، وتكسير ما تركه أجدادكم من أوثان ومسخ وآثار من حجر وشعر ونثر وأدب، اخرجوا فلا العراق ولا مصر ولا سوريا ولا الكويت ولا فلسطين ولا الأردن ولا الشمال الافريقي العطر النظر بحاجة لكم ولا لمن سكن بيننا قبلكم من غجر ويهود وحجر، اذهبوا واخرجوا وخذوا معكم الرحمة، فنحن بعد النصرة وداعش والقاعدة وبقية عصابات الإخوان وآخر منتجاتهم لسنا بحاجة للرحمة ولا للتعاطف، فالدم سيسيل والعنف سينتشر والقلوب ستتقطع والأكباد ستؤكل، والألسنة ستخلع والرقاب ستفك والركب ستنهار، وسنعود للطب القديم والمعالجة بالأعشاب وقراءة القديم من الكتب والضرب في الرمل على الشاطئ بحثا عن الحظ.