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Joining a People Celebrating Its First Year of Liberation
by Nadia Leïla Aïssaoui <>

The meeting began with a press conference in a location that carries heavy symbolism: Saida, capital of South Lebanon, occupied from 1982 to 1985, a city that suffered numerous bombing raids by the Israeli army and the public massacre of about 900 people.

At the foot of an old fortress that saw the arrival of the Crusades, this town proudly houses it old souk of cool, winding alleyways and, as it did seven centuries ago, offers us its most famous Eastern caravanserai in a gesture of hospitality, exchange, regeneration and brotherhood.

Shared concerns and a diversity of initiatives

Mr. Habib Sadek, Chairman of the Arts Council of South Lebanon, welcomed all the participants. Gustavo Marin then presented the framework for co-operation between the Alliance for a Responsible and United World and the Cultural Council of South Lebanon.

Gustavo highlighted two key dimensions in the Alliance's approach: the intention to relay the various initiatives taken on the continental level to the meetings organized by the Allies in different parts of the world - Quito (Ecuador), Bangalore (India), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and Peles (Romania) - and our shared concerns regarding humankind's global challenges.

The second dimension lies in the specific, palpable aspect of the concepts that the Alliance holds dear; in other words, responsibility and solidarity: being amongst a people that is celebrating its first year of liberation of one part of its territory from Israeli occupation after 22 years of resistance, and taking this opportunity to show our complete solidarity with the Palestinian people, who continue to fight for their dignity and their land.

This struggle, in the words of Gustavo Marin, is not just a local armed conflict; in this new millennium it symbolizes everybody's struggle for dignity and justice.

A culture of peace when surrounded by war

Our presence in this part of the world today takes on its full meaning in the dynamics of the Alliance, because the Alliance will take with it true international cooperation and solidarity, that will further enrich the content and quality of the World Assembly in Lille.

We are currently in a Christian Social Center: Dar el Inaya, a place of intense activity for the Christian community of Saida. During the civil war, this center was an important venue for mediation and inter-faith dialogue.

Instilling a culture of peace when surrounded by war has been one of the Center's major challenges, through leisure activities, education and arts for the young people of the region.

Located on the Saida hills, Dar el Inaya shall be the venue for our day's work tomorrow and will cool us with its healthy Mediterranean breeze.


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