1982: The Catholic Maronite President of Lebanon Killed

1982: The Catholic Maronite President of Lebanon Killed
Photo Credit To Wikipedia Commons/ "Bachir With His Father Pierre" by Georges Hayek - Bachir Gemayel - History In A Man. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Commons.

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 14 September 1982
  • The Father of the murdered President Bashir Gemayel was the founder of the Maronite Phalange party.

The Maronite Lebanese President Bashir Gemayel was assassinated on this day in 1982, when a bomb exploded in Beirut.

He was killed just three weeks after he had been elected president, before even taking the oath. The Gemayel family is a very influential Maronite family. The Maronites are Christians who live in Lebanon, and respect the papal supremacy, i.e. they are Catholics, and constitute about 21% of the Lebanese population.

Before the civil war broke out, Lebanon had been called the Switzerland of the Middle East due to its wealth, trade, ethnic and religious diversity within its small territory. The Maronites were the richest residents of Lebanon, and they could be very active politicians, due to the country’s constitution.

For example, one of the richest men in the world, Carlos Slim, is actually a Maronite, and lives in Mexico. It is interesting to note that their religious leader (the Patriarch of Antioch) usually becomes a cardinal, appointed by the Pope. The famous poet Khalil Džibran was also born as Maronite. Interestingly, Carlos Slim’s father had been named Halil, and came to Mexico from Libanon when he was 14 years old.

Pierre Gemayel, the father of the murdered President Bashir Gemayel, was the founder of the Maronite Phalange Party, and an influential Lebanese politician. After Bashir’s death, his brother Amine Gemayel became the new president of Lebanon. Amine’s son, Pierre Amine Gemayel, who served as Minister, was also killed in 2006.

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