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Pierre Gemayel

Pierre Gemayel.

Pierre Gemayel.

(1905- 84) Lebanese politician and founder of the Phalange Party. He was respectfully known as Shaykh Pierre.
His politics were based upon a profound belief that Muslims and Christians of Lebanon could coexist. But his main political achievement was inspired by a distinctly non-tolerant organization: the Nazi Youth Movement that he had seen in Hitler's Germany. During the first 10 years, the Phalange Party grew from a handful of members to nearly 40,000, both men and women.
Other central motifs were to oppose both pan-Arabism and the French mandate — in order to build a country free from any foreign influences.
Gemayel's importance as a politician was often of an indirect nature. He had influence on other politician's careers, and could exercise a great deal of pressure on their politics. The realization of this happened with the election of his son, Amin, as president of Lebanon in 1982 (his other son, Bashir, had at first been elected, but was assassinated).

1905 November 6: Born into a notable Maronite Christian family in Bikfayya (20 km east of Beirut).
1914: Since his family opposes Ottoman rule in Lebanon, they all seek refuge in Mansoura in Egypt.
1918: The Gemayel family can return home to Lebanon, following the fall of Ottoman power.
1920's: Educates himself from universities in Beirut and Paris, France, as a pharmacist. He opens up a pharmacy in Beirut.
1936: Gemayel founds the Phalange Party, or Kataeb Party, as it is also known, together with 4 others: Charles Helou (later president of Lebanon), Shafic Nassif, Emile Yared and Georges Maccache.
1937: The Phalangists rally a demonstration in Beirut, which is crushed by French authorities. Gemayel is arrested, but released after short time.
1958: In the 2 month civil war this year, Gemayel and the Phalange Party side with President Camille Chamoun against the pan-Arabists.
September 23: Fuad Chebab becomes new president, and Gemayel is appointed to the 4 member interim cabinet.
1960 June/July: Gemayel is elected to the parliament.
1962: Assassination attempt on Gemayel's life.
1964 September: Becomes Minister of Finance in the government of Hussein Oweini.
1968: In the general elections, Gemayel forms a triple alliance together with Chamoun and Raymond Edde. This alliance condemns the presence of Palestinian militia in Lebanon as a threat to national security.
1970: Gemayel gives his support to Suleiman Franjieh in the presidential elections. Franjieh is elected president.
1975 April: With the start of the Lebanese Civil War, the Phalange militia, along with Gemayel's son, Bashir, plays an important role in the fight.
1976: The Phalange Party turns to its secret ally, Israel, for support against the Syrian-backed groups.
— Forms the Lebanese Front, an alliance of Christian parties. Chamoun participates in this.
1978 May: Gemayel visits Israel to sign an arms and training agreement.
1979 June 5: Another assassination attempt on Gemayel's life.
1980: Following fighting between the militia of the Phalange Party and Chamoun's party, Gemayel and Chamoun decide to solve the conflict by merging the 2 parties.
1982 September: Gemayel's son, Bashir, the president-elect, is killed by Syrian agents, and a week later his other son, Amin, is elected president.
1984 May: During the National Reconciliation Conference in Switzerland, Gemayel together with Chamoun, gives support to forming a federal system in Lebanon, but does not win sufficient support from other participants.
April: Gemayel joins the government of Rashid Karami.
July: Gemayel steps down as chairman of the Phalange Party.
August 29: Dies from an heart attack in his home in Bikfayya.

By Tore Kjeilen