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Ceremony at NDU in tribute to H.E Mr. Issam Fares, on the occasion of the naming of the university’s Conference hall after him
30 Apr 2007

Father Walid Moussa, President of Notre Dame University, convened a ceremony in tribute to the former Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Issam Fares, on 30 April 2007, to mark the occasion of the naming of NDU’s Conference Hall after him.

The ceremony began with the playing of the Lebanese National anthem. Afterward, Mr. Souheil Matar, NDU’s director of Public Relations, delivered an address in which he noted that the gathering was a special one, for a special individual, Mr. Issam Fares, pointing out that most of our politicians are absent, while Mr. Fares is very present, although he was not attending the event.

After outlining current perceptions of politics, Mr. Matar stated that Mr. Issam Fares occupied higher and higher state positions without exhibiting conceit; he was a Member of Parliament, Minister, and Deputy Prime Minister. He never displayed bias; he was never ‘bought’; he never engaged in prevarication. Out of his own office, Mr. Fares created a planning and studies department, where plans to build a beautiful and free country were drawn up. Mr. Fares never engaged sordid deal-making; he used his money to serve people, especially in the deprived areas of northern Lebanon, without any religious or regional discrimination.

Mr. Matar added that the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri was an especially painful event for Mr. Fares, who saw it as more than just the murder of an individual – it was an attempt to murder the country of Lebanon. Who did it, and how? Mr. Fares foresaw the damage and tried hard to awaken and alert people to the repercussions. However, “man does not attain all his heart desires for the winds do not blow as the vessels wish.”

Mr. Matar concluded his speech by inviting former Deputy Prime Minister Fares to return to his homeland: “If people like you remain out of sight, then the ground will be propitious for the corrupt, the opportunists, and the political deal-makers to reap the benefits. Your absence does not bother them, but it hurts us.”

Father Moussa

Afterward, NDU’s president, Father Walid Moussa, delivered an address expressing his delight that the Conference Hall was being named after a generous individual. Mr. Fares, he said, was one of Lebanon’s leading lights; he contributed to the construction of the facility and will make further contributions, as his name will allow the Conference Hall to shine as a home for intellectuals and academics.

Father Moussa added that the Maronite Mariamite Order was very pleased that Mr. Fares, an Eastern Orthodox Christian, has always bestowed his generous donations equally, without discrimination.

Father Moussa also remarked on Mr. Fares’ first visit to NDU, during the 2000 commencement ceremony, when he gave a distinguished speech that maintained the national interest outweighs any personal interests, and would overcome any type of fanaticism that divides people.

The NDU President added that these ideas formed Issam Fares’ principles and beliefs, proof of his faith in Lebanon. Father Moussa said that they stayed in touch with Mr. Fares and this hall was built and named after Mr. Fares to honor him and his capabilities.
Father Moussa thanked former Prime Minister Fares, saying that the best days were yet to come, upon his return to Lebanon and visit to this Conference Hall. That day will serve as a celebration of warmth and love, he said.

“We look forward to seeing you next to us at this forum,” Father Moussa concluded, “and we hope that this day will come soon. You can be certain that at this university, not only is there a hall name after you, but there are also people who love you.”

Issam Fares

The speech of President Issam Fares was delivered by his representative on his behalf, Mr. William Mejalli, the Managing Director of the Fares Foundation:

“Prime Minister Fares granted me the honor of representing him at this ceremony in order to send you his best regards and wishes, and give this speech on his behalf on this occasion.

I congratulate NDU and the Maronite Mariamite Order, for thanks to your strong will, the University has become a home for education and knowledge in only two decades. Thanks to this goodwill, we are all united to build Lebanon.

We build Lebanon with creativity and innovation, not with ignorance and lingering.

We build Lebanon by ensuring that it remains a center for the interaction of religions, civilizations and ethnicities, not by rendering it a place for crime and revenge.

We build Lebanon when our unity creates our strength, not when we rely on others to make us feel strong.

We build Lebanon by bringing together efforts to build a modern State, not by destroying institutions, public utilities, and our dignity.

We build Lebanon with our full commitment to the nation, not by our loyalty to an individual, a party, a religion or a family.

We build it with public service, not with selfishness and personal interests.

We build Lebanon with generosity and cooperation and by accepting others, not by being isolated and self-centered.

We build it by constantly seeking to promote its role and by preserving its values, not by disfiguring its qualities and doubting the foundations of its continuity.

We build Lebanon by spreading the culture of love, respect and peace, not by provoking aggression, hatred and fanaticism.

The secret of Lebanon’s continuity, he added, lies in its solid, universal and humanistic Constitution, which embraces a mission of faith, creativity and excellence. It is the finest example for continuity of humanity, a Constitution that we have always praised, from the world’s leading forums, as a substitute for all racist and inward-looking entities…

Why do we ignore the harm that we are inflicting upon this Constitution, whether intentionally or unintentionally? Have we ever wondered about all of this worldwide interest in our daily issues? No one has ever thought that this attraction to Lebanon springs from a desire to covet our hidden wealth. Which wealth are they looking for? Does this outside interest contain fear, or joy, or even an expectation that Lebanon will collapse? Where do we stand? Is everyone concerned with Lebanon in order to harm our nation, or revitalize it? Should we simply wait and see?

We appear to be watching a play of death, the foundations are burning while we calmly search for a way to take advantage of this.

This is the law of the jungle; beware of its consequences for we are one nation, one destiny.

This the first time in two years that I am delivering a public address, he continued. I say public because I have never left my people and fellow citizens. I have shared their joy and grief and tried to ease their pain. I have never cursed the darkness; I was trying instead to light a candle on the crossroads of my country. However, if I have been physically absent, it is to avoid the disappointing scenes and incidents that take place from time to time, when humans are taken for fools and religions are taken advantage of. How could I stand to look upon what hurts my eyes and my heart?

I will take this opportunity to invite various policymakers to return to their pure and innocent roots and take a conscious position - both toward themselves and toward history. They should be aware that what is taking place in in their country is a game, and a very risky adventure for everyone. Ignoring and neglecting this unstable situation is like watching the agony of the nation, it is like giving up on the country and its identity. I strongly ask them not to spare any effort for the sake of Lebanon.

I ask them not to be ashamed to reconcile to themselves and to others. Keep arrogance and insolence aside. Do not stick blindly to certain positions that are sometimes dictated to you, for in the account of the nation only courage, chivalry and patriotism shall be deposited. As for maneuvering and duplicity, they will all end up in the trash bin of history; and history is merciless. Lebanon is close to the edge. If it reaches it, God forbid, no seat, title, position or share will be spared, we will be all left with tents thrown in the deserts left with our tears and regrets.

Let us be aware and responsible for the blessing of having a country that is the Jewel of the East. Let us learn how to preserve it; otherwise, we will be neglecting our fortune and our existence. I have always bet on the faithful Lebanese will and the creative Lebanese mind and on every single Lebanese who has proven what he is capable of in every corner of the world. I have bet - and will win this bet - that Lebanon will remain forever thanks to its own will and determination, and not to “imported bravery,” whatever the source.

My only wish is for this grief to fade away, for this disunity to come to an end, and for everyone to start contributing positively in order to build a new Lebanon, one that is more immune to outside threats and protected by solidarity, a new Lebanon that is full of love, freedom and democracy. I hope this day is at our doorsteps.

Last but not least, we wish NDU all possible success,

Congratulation and kind regards,

Long live NDU, and long live Lebanon.

Afterward, Father Moussa honored Deputy Prime Minister Fares by granting him the NDU Medal, which Colonel Mejalli received on his behalf. A banner was then lifted, reading: “Issam Fares, thank you, we are waiting for you, come back to Lebanon.” Then the crowd moved to the entrance of the hall where the curtain was raised on the commemorative painting of the hall. Beverages were then served for the occasion.