Thursday, May 22, 2008


I am working on a documentary about "maison laique". This place is a real home for everyone who believes in secularity and dreams of a civil society.
I remember my first visit was so interesting and emotionally arousing. There is something strange in this maison. It's cozy; you feel the human part of each person you meet because that's all there is inside. No politics, no religious differences or others. Maison laique joins everyone coming from different places, different political parties and different beliefs, under one common cause, SECULARITY
Angelo Beaini met me at the door. Inviting me inside, the smile on his face made me so comfortable to ask my many questions. "I'm here till tomorrow morning, ask as much as you like". He said.
Beaini is the executive manager of the maison - which opened on February 1.
"I have the right to be governed by the state, not Bairiki or the mufti or something like that," Angelo said from the library of Lebanon's first Maison Laique.
The house, Beaini said, is a gathering place for councils, concerts, exhibitions, and discussions. All are welcome, he added, students, intellectuals, journalists, "everyone as long as they don't practice division by religion and race."
The maison laique, on Khalidi Street in Hamra, is a testament to this belief. The house is a brave but modest endeavor - there are several rooms, a library, and a garden. The walls of the salon are decorated with the works of well known Lebanese painters (Mohammad Awali, Adel Kodayah…). There is also a piano and a series of sculptures.
The library has a rich collection of books, some from the "Arab Renaissance" some from the French avant-garde, others on science and mathematics.
The house was founded by Lebanese journalist and intellectual Nasri al-Sayegh and originally funded by a Lebanese businessman in Belgium, Faouzi Abikhalil.
After Abikhalil's death, the Association for Laicite in Lebanon (APLL), which is based in Belgium, provided the support necessary to create the center.
I knocked on Mr. Nasri's office, a very pleasant person and a great personality which I admire a lot.
Sayegh defined the laicite campaign in Lebanon "as a project to revise confessionalism ... to move toward a civil society, in which citizens are citizens not confessionalists."
"The maison laique," he added, "is a place where people who believe in laicite can work together on projects that promote the cause ... students and professors alike." Sayegh said the project offered hope: "We have hope, confidence that laicite will over time show success."
My last question was: how come political discussion is banned inside maison laique?
"We must start at the human level and move to politics". Sayegh suggested: "If we start talking politics before we reach the common thing we all have- which is the human side of us - we won't agree on anything. That's why we work from the first step of the ladder to reach the top".
I invite everyone who reads this to visit "maison laique". You can have a good cup of coffee, a good chat, and a great feeling of peace.


A very interesting person I met last week, named Sako.
Sako is an atheist, as he defines himself.

He came towards me while I was visiting some friends in "maison laique".
'I have a dream', he said.

** The Conversation **
Me: what is your dream about?
Sako: I want to destroy every mosque and church in Lebanon
Me: (shocked) why?
Sako: because religion brought nothing good to Lebanon
Me: why's that? Religion brings peace!
Sako: when religion interferes with politics, it brings nothing but destruction.
Me: why don't you think of ways to separate them rather than destroying mosques and churches?
Sako: many secular parties and organizations tried before. It didn't work. "khalas" he said, with his funny weak Arabic.
Me: but you can't remove faith from people
Sako: (laughing), if I destroy Lebanon, will there still be god?
Me: of course
Sako: if I destroyed churches and mosques, will there still be Lebanon
Me: of course, and faith too!
Sako: You said it! There will remain Lebanon and Faith. Two things apart!!!

all about what?

Secularity is the subject of my graduation project, and a personal belief I find necessary to attain real citizenship.
I hope to inform my viewers about secularity as a definition, and as a mean of creating a civil country.

Why secularity? The reason I chose secularity to be my topic is because I noticed the huge misunderstanding of this term among students and youth generally. Most of them related the term to atheism!! And the others all had non-specific definitions.
My colleagues showed great interest about this issue which encouraged me to work harder and have a bigger aim from my project.
I hope this blog could be a trustful source of information, and I will do my best to make secularity a clearer concept.