A U.S. delegation of Free Patriotic Movement leaders concluded a two-day political workshop in Birmingham, Mich. on Sunday, which included an evening dinner attended by Consul General of Lebanon Bilal Kabalan.
Kabalan voiced his future plans to invite opposing Lebanese political factions to unanimously gather for a meeting.
“We have plans to bridge the various Lebanese political chapters in Detroit,” said Kabalan, during brief comments in Arabic. “This is an important and democratic asset to Lebanon to have so many differing beliefs.”
The final day of the workshop hosted political supporters of the March 8 alliance, including guests of the March 14 alliance, for a dinner at The Community House in downtown Birmingham.
Suehaila Amen, coordinator of the two-day conference, said the purpose was to restructure the Lebanese American Council of Democracy (LACD), which is largely managed by Tayyar leaders.
“This is an opportunity to bring together leaders from around the nation to reshape the mission and vision of this organization,” Amen said. “It’s also to make the group more social than political.”
Salim Sessine, local Lebanese-American businessman who organized the conference, said workshop attendees agreed to structure independent statewide organizations of LACD.
“We want to create one national board,” Sessine said. “Then there will be independent statewide chapters which will remain as separate entities.”
Conference attendees discussed the security situation in Lebanon and the ongoing presidential vacuum, which they say threatens Christians in the Middle East.
“Christians are currently in a fragile role in the region,” said Tony Faddoul, who came from New York for the conference. “But that issue is a uniting factor among many of the Lebanese political groups.”
Faddoul said FPM’s political strategy desires to protect Christians and rally the Lebanese diaspora to maintain their roots in Lebanon.
“We’re from a generation used to all the climax,” he said. “We heard of flourishing moments from our parents, but we haven’t had the chance to experience them. We instead emigrated to other countries.”
Wedad Elhage, who immigrated to the United States in 1980, said she’s pleased to see diaspora communities remain involved in Lebanese politics.
“I’m so proud to see different factions of our community here,” Elhage said. “As emigrants we came to the United States to achieve our dreams and have hopes to return our country and live freely.”