Marjayoun (Arabic مرجعيون, also Marj 'Ayoun, Marjuyun or Marjeyoun - meaning "meadow of springs") is a Lebanese town and administrative district, Marjeyoun District, in the Nabatieh Governorate in Southern Lebanon. It is 860 meters above sea level, and it is located on the west side of the Rift Valley Bank just across from the ancient regional capital, Caesarea Philippi, which was located at the foot of Mt. Hermon on the east side of the Rift Valley. It is not to be confused with the Banias Springs at Caesarea Philippi.
Marjeyoun is on a hill facing Mount Hermon to the East, Beaufort Castle, the 1000-year-old Crusader Castle above the Litani River and overlooking Mount Amel (Jabal Amel) to the West, the summits of Rihan and Niha and the rest of the Mount Lebanon range to the North and the fertile plains of Marjeyoun that extend southward into the Galilee plains and the Golan Heights. Marjayoun is home to the historic Cathedral of Saint Peter.
The town of Marjayoun has a mixed population - Greek Orthodox, Maronite and Greek Catholic Christians, as well as Sunni Muslims, Druze and Shia Muslims. Christians form a simple majority of the population now, but losing their primacy in the town as the number of Shia Muslims steadily increase. Despite this demographic decline, Marjayoun still maintains a Christian air. Outside the town, most villages in the surrounding valleys and mountains surrounding are predominantly Shia Muslim.
The district of Marjayoun, which covers a greater area than the town, is largely Shi'a Muslim. It recognizes three seats in the Lebanese government, two belonging to Shi'a Muslims and one belonging to Orthodox Christians.
On June 10, 1179, during the Battle of Marj Ayyun, an Ayyubid army commanded by Saladin defeated a Crusader army led by King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem on June 10, 1179. The Christian king narrowly escaped being captured in the rout.
During the Lebanese civil war the town was shelled by Palestinian militias.
It also was the headquarters of the South Lebanon Army, the Israel-affiliated militia that controlled southern Lebanon during Israel's occupation of the region after the 1982 Lebanon War until Israel's withdrawal from the region in 2000. It has a population of about 3,000 people.
After cease-fire negotiations stalled on August 10, 2006, Israeli forces took control of Marjayoun. Next day, a convoy of 3,000 people fled from the town. The convoy was attacked by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) at Joub Jannine. The attack on the convoy of approximately 759 vehicles containing Lebanese police, army, civilians, and one Associated Press journalist is known as the Marjayoun convoy incident.
People from Marjayoun
- Nassar Hanna Gholmieh, 1947, first parliament member from Marjayoun. Lawyer, journalist and writer.
- Dr. Richard Jabara, 1920–1967, founded several hospitals from Tripoli in Lebanon to Saudi Arabia- Philanthropist.
- James Jabara, an American pilot and hero of the Korean War, was born to a family of Lebanese Americans originating from Marjayoun.
- Michael E. DeBakey, world renowned American surgeon, innovator, medical educator, and international medical statesman was born to a family of Lebanese Americans originating in Marjayoun.
- Dr. Walid Gholmieh who is the director of the Le Conservatoire libanais national supérieur de musique was born in Marjeyoun.
- George Toma, father of four sons; Kay Toma, M.D., Jeff Toma, D.D.S., Paul Toma, M.D., and Ernie Toma, M.D., all four served together in World War II with honor as officers in the United States Army Air Corps and in the Korean War.
- Issam Mahfouz, son of the poet Abdul-Massih Mahfouz, was the author of more than 45 books, and a nationally renowned playwright. He also wrote for renown Lebanese daily Al-Nahar News paper. His most famous books included the plays of Al Dictator and AL-Zinzanakht.
- Albert Hourani, Academic.
- Brigitte Gabriel, Lebanese American journalist, born in Marjeyoun, author, and activist.
- Anthony Shadid American of Lebanese origin; Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for the New York Times.
The parents of Faris Gani, a childhood friend of DeBakey, born in Lake Charles, Louisiana, were born in Marjayoun.
Photos of Marjayoun
- Hirst, David. 1999. South Lebanon: The war that never ends? Journal of Palestine Studies 28(3).
- CNN.com - Sources: U.S., France agree on peace plan - August 10, 2006
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