|'Rafik Hariri's assassination ended the Civil War mentality in Lebanon'|
|According to Antoine Messarra, a renowned political author, the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri ended the Civil War mentality in Lebanon and strengthened national unity and civil peace.
Messarra, president of the Lebanese Foundation for the Permanent Civil Peace, was speaking to The Daily Star on Monday at Beirut's Meridien Hotel after being re-elected to a sixth term as head of the LFPCP executive committee.
He said: "February 14 ended the Civil War because it created a shock among the Lebanese people, pushing them to say, 'Enough is enough; we want reforms and change.'"
Messarra, also a professor in the faculty of Law and Political Sciences at the Lebanese University, said the million-strong March 14 demonstration symbolized the national uprising after a long period of suffering and marked the beginning of a new prosperous era.
But he questioned the Lebanese people's ability to maintain their civil peace and calls for reform, pointing to "holes" in the political sector and to the unorganized and vulnerable civil community used to years of disunion and disintegration.
He said: "The Lebanese parties are facing serious challenges, labor unions are not helpful and effective non-governmental organizations are rare ... all these factors jeopardize the civil peace."
Messarra added it's the responsibility of the youths to preserve the accomplishments achieved since February 14, saying Lebanon will be in a much better position if it puts its national unity as a top priority.
He said: "If the Lebanese people and politicians adopt the notion of Lebanon first, meaning they prioritize national unity, Lebanon will then be able to play its role as a pioneer among the Arab countries."
Messarra added: "In order to make national unity a priority, people's mentality and perception of things should change through strategic education revival plans."
Antoine Attallah, also a professor at LU, said the civil peace movement has been making strides since Hariri's assassination, with a national consensus reached among the Lebanese to call for independence, sovereignty and freedom.
He said: "The parliamentary elections proved the level of maturity and awareness the Lebanese society has reached and their strong will to change and maintain peace."
The LFPCP yearly reports on civil peace can be viewed at: www.lfpcp.org
Beirut,07 19 2005
The Daily Star