Majid Arslan

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Emir Majid Toufic Arslan (in Arabic الأمير مجيد توفيق أرسلان) (born February 1908 in Choueifat, Lebanon — died September 18, 1983 in Khaldeh, south of Beirut) was a Lebanese Druze leader and head of the Arslan feudal Druze ruling family. Emir Majid Arslan was the leader of the Yazbaki (Arslan affiliations) faction. Majid Arslan was a national political figure with a role in Lebanon's independence, a long-running Member of the Lebanese Parliament and a government minister for many times with a number of important ministerial portfolios, most notably Defense, Health, Telecommunications, Agriculture and Justice.

Personal life[edit]

Emir Majid Arslan was the son of Emir Toufic Arslan who helped found Greater Lebanon in 1920. He had three brothers (Nouhad, Riad, Melhem) and a sister (Zahia). Emir Majid studied at the famous French school, Mission Laique Francaise.

In 1932, he married his cousin, Emira Lamiss Shehab. She bore him two sons: Emir Toufic (1935 — 2003) and Emir Faysal (1941 - 2009).

In 1956, after his first wife’s death, Prince Majid remarried Khawla Jumblatt. She bore him three daughters (Princesses Zeina, Rima, and Najwa) and a son, Prince Talal Arslan, current Head of the House of Arslan and a Druze leader.

He was known for his exceptional skills in horsemanship and would often exercise his hobby in a southern village El Mageedieh (3 km²), named after him.

Political career[edit]

Parliament[edit]

Emir Majid Arslan ran for parliamentary elections in 1931 and won the Druze seat of Aley Cazaa district. His allies also won the elections. From 1931 until his death in 1983, he and his allies would win all the parliamentary elections of 1934, 1937, 1943, 1947, 1951, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972.

Cabinet[edit]

Over a period of 35 years, Emir Majid Arslan held various ministerial posts.

Lebanon’s 1943 independence[edit]

The Emir on his knees kissing the first Lebanese flag on 22 November 1943

Emir Majid Arslan was the leader of the independence of Lebanon in 1943 when the president Bechara El Khoury with fellow ministers were taken to prison to Rachaya by the French. 1 7 After World War I, in 1918, the French established control over Lebanon by virtue of a League of Nations Mandate. In 1943, the leaders of the country together with the ministers held a national convention and drew up a National Pact stating that:

  1. Lebanon is an independent country with an Arab aspect,
  2. Lebanon is to be led by neither East nor West,
  3. No to Colonialism,
  4. Religious sects are to be represented in ministries and all governmental posts,
  5. The Lebanese government should bring under its control customs, railways and the Regie tobacco monopoly.
  6. The Lebanese government should supervise and control its borders.

On 10 November 1943, the French retaliated by arresting the Lebanese President Bechara El Khoury, Prime Minister Riad Solh and ministers Camille Chamoun, Adel Osseiran and Abdul Hamid Karami. The French used Senegalese mercenaries to transport these political prisoners to Rashaya Fort in the Beqaa Valley. Ministers Majid Arslan, Sabri Hamadeh and Habib Abi Shahla escaped the arrest because they were not in their homes that night.

On 11 November, 1943, Arslan, Hamadeh and Abi Shahla created the “Government of Free Lebanon” with Habib Abi Shahla as Prime Minister and Majid Arslan as Head of National Guard.57 Their headquarters were in Bechamoun, a village 30 km from Beirut. Toufic Hamdan (born February 11, 1927- died August 3, 2009) and his brother Adel Hamdan (born 1924- ) spotted the French Columns marching from the mountains of Aitate, a city on the outskirts of Ain Anoub. Toufic and Adel Hamdan ran back and informed the men of Ain Anoub of the incoming military. The men of Ain Anoub took up arms and blocked the road at the historic landmark, Sindyaneh. When the French forces attempted to remove the road blocks, the battle began led by Adeeb Elbiny (?-?), Naef Soujah (1895-1944), along with his son Najib Soujah (1927-September 24, 1981), and the only martyr of the battle, Saeed Fakhreddine (?-November 11, 1943), and many more men from Ain Anoub. Saeed Fakhreddine climbed on top of the tank and dropped grenades into the tank, sacrificing his life to achieve victory. The fight ensued and liberators prevailed over the French. At that time Majid Arslan declared a Free Lebanon from the home of Halabi in Bechamoun where he sought refuge from the arrests. Meanwhile, disturbances and riots raged all over Lebanon. The Deputies held a secret session during which they drew and signed on a new flag that they handed over to the cabinet of Bshamoun.

On 21 November 1943, Due to riots, open strikes, the armed rebellion of Ain Anoub and the interference of Arab and Western states (mainly Britain), the political prisoners were released. 3 The freed prisoners passed by Bechamoun on their way back home, to thank the rebels. There, they sang the Lebanese National Hymn and Majid Arslan knelt in front of the Lebanese flag and kissed it.

On 22 November 1943, Lebanon was proclaimed an independent state.

Styles of
Emir Majid Arslan II
Coat of arms of Lebanon.svg
Reference style His Highness
Spoken style Your Highness
Alternative style Sire

References[edit]

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Eyal Zisser. Lebanon: The Challenge of Independence. I.B. Tauris. Page 116
  • Marc Loris. Lebanon's Fight for Independence (1944).
  • Salman Falah. The Druze in the Middle-East. Druze Research & Publications Institute, New York, USA. Pages 28–29)
  • Raghid El-Solh. Lebanon and Arabism: National Identity and State Formation. I.B. Tauris.
  • Kamal Salibi. A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered.
  • Federal Research Division. Lebanon: A Country Study.