Monsignor Pascal Gollnisch like to quote the anti-clerical Léon Gambetta, who helped, in the Nineteenth century, the christian schools in Lebanon. To those who wondered at it, this strong politician of the Third Republic responded : "anticlericalism is not an export product. "Léon Gambetta was not supportive of a faith-based institution, but French-language schools that were home to all Lebanese, be they christians, muslims, druze, girls as well as boys, rich and poor alike. "Education is a remedy against all fanaticism. These schools are involved in this social peace, to " live together ", unique in the Middle East. If they close, the situation may deteriorate even more in Lebanon. The peace is in danger ", warns the director general of the Work of the East.
The Point : Why is this cry of alarm today in an attempt to save the schools in Lebanon ? You say that more than 300 institutions may not reopen at the start of September.
Mgr Pascal Gollnisch : The crisis is both deep and far. The civil war caused an exodus. Fewer students means less resources for schools. However, 70 % of the network, lebanese education is non-government, and receives no aid from the State. With the economic crisis, banking policy, to which is added the containment, many institutions are threatened with closure. It is dramatic, particularly in the villages where there are no other schools. This will cause a new exodus of christians, and not only. With the Fondation Raoul Follereau, we have established a list of priority schools. The Work of the East will provide a million euros to allow thirty institutions to reopen in September.
But after this season, how to sustain them in the future ?
The Work of the East is only an association. Others must take up the slack, first on the level of the French State. As the Agency for French teaching abroad (Aefe), but also the funds announced by Emmanuel Macron, during his trip in Israel and in the palestinian territories, which is under development. But there must be other yet to re-engage with this ancient tradition to support christian schools, francophones to the East. I think of the regions, in the major French cities, to companies who work with the Lebanon.
We do not wish to encourage dependency on handouts.
The Work of the East foresees other actions to come to the rescue of this country that is sinking every day a little more in the crisis ? L'orient-Le jour announces private hospitals, debt-ridden, could also close.
Since the end of the civil war in 1990, to attract funds, the lebanese government had developed a monetary policy that is very favorable, with interest rates higher than 15 %. This economy hyperfinanciarisée has led to the bankruptcy. To get out of it, Lebanon must develop local productions. Very modestly, the Work of the East fund, in the amount of 10 000 euros, projects in agriculture, crafts. But beware, it is a unique aid to assist in the start-up of a company deemed interesting. Then, these new entrepreneurs will find themselves of other resources. We do not wish to encourage dependency on handouts.
You talk about welfare, is this not a bit harsh vis-à-vis the Lebanese ?
Under the pretext of punishing Bashar al-Assad, to punish the syrian people after ten years of civil war, and indirectly of the lebanese people.
What do you think of the law of Caesar, passed by Washington and aimed at all transactions with the Damascus government ? However, the economies of syria and lebanon are closely related. Many Syrians have accounts in banks in Beirut.
I am in total disagreement with the Americans, which there are more the faux pas in this region. Under the pretext of punishing Bashar al-Assad, to punish the syrian people after ten years of civil war, and indirectly of the lebanese people. How do you think the Syrians, who have fled their homeland, can return home if their homes, their shops, their cities are destroyed ? It is necessary to help in the reconstruction, and these are not Iranians and the Russians who are going to do it, but well the West. Let's also not forget that Lebanon, a country of 5.5 million inhabitants, is between 1 million and 1.5 million syrian refugees, the majority of whom are very poor. The act Caesar also punishes the Lebanon.
While the U.s. threatens to sanction any entity that provides significant support to the syrian regime, we do not hear enough Europe...
Yet, the threat of the islamic State, has resurfaced in Iraq and Syria. The whole region of Idlib, in northern Syria, is under the control of Al-Qaeda. At one time, are we not went to Afghanistan to fight the jihadists ? Now that this terrorist organization is at our doors, Europe does nothing...
How may react Hezbollah, heavy weight of the political life in lebanon and an ally of the regime in Damascus and Iran ?
The recent past of Lebanon has shown that no group, be they christians, sunni muslims or shiite muslims, can only take power at the expense of others. Iran being weakened economically, its support of Hezbollah, is also weakened. You may have seen in the events in Lebanon of shiites. Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of the shiite party, not unanimously.
What do you say to those who question the confessionalism, the lebanese government that distributes political power in a manner proportional between different religious communities ? A christian president, a sunni Prime minister, a president of the Chamber of deputies a shiite.
of Course, there may be sometimes the cronyism, drifts, but thanks to this system, religious freedoms are respected. This is a unique situation in the Middle East.Updated Date: 08 July 2020, 07:33