Dr. Naila Takieddine Kaidbey - The 1860 Civil War: Heroes and Villains
The civil war of 1860 in Mount Lebanon produced many accounts of leaders of the warring communities of heroes and villains. In any historical treatise the absolute truth is not attainable. Such a task is more problematic and indeed treacherous in a civil war.
In this talk Naila will attempt to recount the story of Tanius Shahin, Ghanem Abu Samra and Youssef Shantiri who actively participated in the events of 1860. As Maronites, their communities glorified and sang in praise of their feat against their adversaries the Druze. The Druze saw their actions as cowardly and treacherous. In any historical treatise the absolute truth is not attainable.
The story will be incomplete without reference to the Druze combatants muqati ‘jis (feudal lords), manasib (notables) and ‘ammiyya (commoners) who closed rank in what they perceived to be a battle for survival. She will focus on a few participants and briefly introduce these men and place them in proper context. Absolving them of any guilt is not her intention.
In any civil war, truth is always the first victim and the real villain is war itself. Like so many such characters in history, the deeds of these men were exaggerated and it is hard to separate the man from the myth.
Naila Takieddine Kaidbey has a PhD in history. She is a faculty member at Department of History and Archeology at the American University of Beirut.
The Civil War of 1860 is entrenched in the memory of the Lebanese people as the biggest sectarian turmoil in their history. Tales about it have been handed down by families for generation
October 2011 an international Symposium was held in Beirut under the joint hospices of USJ, IFPO and the University of Balamand. The theme of the symposium was: 1860: History and Memoryof a Conflict.Naila was a member of the organizing committee and presented a paper about Druze Participants in the mayhem of 1860.
It took a great deal of heated debate before they finally agreed on the title. Christians refer to these events as Massacres, the Druze as hawadith, and the objective researchers as a civil war. In light of the current events and the tendency to explain all events in terms of sectarianism, we believed extreme caution should be exercised hence the non-committed title leaving it to the audience to draw their own conclusions.
Many works have been written about the various aspects of the subject. Naila chose to focus on a narrow aspect the heroes and villains on both sides of the divide. As compatriots bear arms against each other, wanton bloodshed is common to all, brutality rewarded with adulation and the very fabric of a society’s humanity torn apart at the seams.