Friday, February 15, 2008

Speech at Third Hariri Memorial in Dearborn Michigan

Ladies and Gentlemen:
Thank you for attending this memorial for the late PM of Lebanon, Rafic Hariri-
When we speak about him we speak of great leadership and vision
What ‘s commonly known about him is his great wealth and great generosity to match
He was a man who believed that human beings are basically decent and can only be improved by education.
A prominent Arab- American leader told me that he admired PM Hariri’s role in education.
This education of students did not stop with his death and so far about 50,000 students have benefited from his ongoing generosity.
While his role in education is remarkable, his shining legacy is-
his vision and values-
the values of openness to the other- and inclusion. His belief in Lebanon and its people-
When Mr. Hariri returned to Lebanon, Lebanon was torn in every conceivable way. It was physically in shambles-
He believed it could be rebuilt to be its old self and even greater
Despite the great weight given in Lebanon to family, sect and region-
From day one- He belonged to all Lebanese,
everything he did-
from rebuilding- to educating -to his philanthropy-
individuals of all religious affiliations benefited-
In giving back and elevating the country and the people- he transcended family, sect and region-
Such a transcendence is indeed a revolutionary idea in a country emerging from civil war.
Other values he expounded include:
1. Honesty- a rare commodity in third world politics
2. Faith
3. Being above hate and envy
4. Philanthropy-
5. Providing opportunity- reducing poverty by education and economic development.
6. Commitment to dialogue, compromise and nonviolence
7. Celebrating life and entrepreneurship.
He is a role model of the practicing Muslim that embraces modernity and expounds values that are truly universal.

Indeed, his loss is a tragic loss
not to be forgotten or forgiven.
Thankfully, his vision is institutionalized in the Future Movement led by his son Shaykh Saad- A man committed to the same values as his father was.
---As Americans of Arab and Muslim descent, our children are bombarded by media images of radicals-
radicals expounding on and celebrating the culture of death-
Radicals preaching ignorance, exclusion, hate of the other, and the blind belief in the clash of civilizations.
Unfortunately, as Americans of Arab and/or Muslim descent, we are looked at suspiciously as if those merchants of death and hate represent our faith and our Arab heritage.
We can counter that nonsense by Exhibit # 1-
the statesman, the vision, of Mr. Hariri-
of how he truly represented Arabs and Islam. This is his legacy.
We shall not forget you, the most honorable of men- Ya ashraf al nas Ya rafeeq al hareeri.

Thank You.

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