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Digital Archive International History Declassified

1958

UNTITLED REPORT ABOUT EGYPTIAN ACTIVITIES IN LEBANON

This document was made possible with support from the Youmna and Tony Asseily

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    Information on the types and sources of Egyptian political propaganda being published in Lebanon.
    "Untitled report about Egyptian activities in Lebanon," 1958, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 8, File 29F/8, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/175768
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29F/8

There is a considerable amount of Egyptian political activity in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan; in Lebanon, a large publicity campaign is underway to gain support for Egypt's policies through the following:

I. Educational and religious missions: During King Farouk's reign, Egypt used to send Egyptian education missions, most of whose members belonged to the Muslim Brotherhood Organisation, to teach at the Islamic Makassed schools in Beirut, Tripoli, and Sidon. The Egyptian Government continued this policy after the revolution and up until it started pursuing members of the Muslim Brotherhood.

When Egypt stopped sending these missions after the trial of the Brotherhood's members, the Makassed Islamic Philanthropic Association in Beirut took the matter up with the Revolutionary Government and requested that the missions continue. The person in charge of this happened to be Mr Sa'eb Salam, the personal friend of President Nasser and brother of Mohammad Salam, President of the Makassed Association in Beirut. Nasser promised to respond positively and referred the matter to Commissioner Sadat who was responsible for religious affairs and for propaganda against the Muslim Brotherhood. When Anwar al-Sadat recently visited Lebanon, he paid a visit to the Islamic Makassed schools in Beirut, Tripoli and Sidon, and agreed with them on the number of teachers that should be sent to Lebanon at the expense of the Egyptian Government. He also agreed with the Muslim Council to send a mission of al-Azhar graduates to occupy various religious positions in city and village mosques. He, however, agreed with senior Lebanese religious figures and with the Director of the Makassed Association, that the Egyptian missions will have total freedom to do publicity in favour of the Revolutionary Government in Egypt, President Nasser, and the cause of Islamic unity. Upon Sadat's return to Egypt, the Egyptian Government sent a number of teachers to work at the Makassed schools and a number of imams and preachers to be distributed among mosques in Lebanese cities and villages. A week ago, these started their overt publicity for Egypt.

2. Printed material, newsletters and photographs:

Egypt flooded Lebanon's publishing houses and news-stands with newspapers and other publications, and gave the sellers an extra commission (though they are sold at cost-price) on and above what they usually get for selling Lebanese newspapers. After the local press complained, the Lebanese Government banned price speculation and Egyptian publications were priced as local ones, although the latter are bigger in size and have more pages, editorial content, and photographs.

Glossy coloured pictures of Nasser were distributed free of charge to homes, businesses, offices, public places, and to be pasted on car windows. This form of propaganda had a huge impact on the less politically versed masses which neither move in political circles nor read Egyptian or local newspapers. Nasser's name quickly became familiar to all social classes and ages: the aged, youth, women, young girls, even children.

3. Local newspapers: Thus, thanks to the efforts of the Egyptian Embassy’s press attache, Egyptian propaganda succeeded in attracting the support of a large number of local newspapers such as al-Sharq, al-]arida, and al-Telegraph; newspapers that support President Bechara al-Khoury, such as al-Hoda, al-jihad and al-Diyar, and al-Sharq; and leftist newspapers such as Socialist al-Anba' and the communist al-Akhar.

4. Political figures: The Egyptian Government employs representatives who maintain contact with political figures, and in Lebanon this role is played by the Embassy’s military attache. Among the personalities who work for the Egyptian cause and follow policies aligned with Egypt's against Anglo-American and Iraqi policies are President Bechara al-Khoury, who is always up to date on policies, and his friend President Shukri al-Kouatly, President Nasser's best friend. President al-Khoury performs his role overtly through leaders of al-Hizb al-Destouri al-Hur such as lawyer Fouad al-Khoury, former deputy Rachad 'Azar, former director and lawyer Hassan Farhat, and former minister Philip Takla; and covertly through lawyer Bahij Takieddine, Dr B’aqlini, Sheikh Salim al-Khoury, and others. The supporters of Sheikh Bechara al-Khoury never miss an opportunity to take part in conferences that oppose President Chamoun and the Iraqi alliance's policies. The same goes for former President Hussein al-Ouni; Mr Kamal Jumblatt, Secretary General of the Socialist Party; Mr Adnan al-Hakim, President of al-Najjada; Antoun Tabet, Dean of the Peace Movement; union presidents; the majority of Muslim scholars in Beirut; the Maronite Patriarchate; Mr Ahmad al-Asa'ad; Mr Sabri Hamadeh; and Mr Mohammad Hamza, President of the Popular Front in Tripoli and Karami's opponent.

Egyptian propaganda in Lebanon drowned out the opposition led by President Chamoun, Deputy Emil Boustani, and a number of newspapers such as Beirut, owned by Mohieddine al-Nsouli; al-Hayat, owned by Kamel Mroue; and al-Rowad, owned by Hanna Maroun.

Their policies became strongly disliked by the masses compelling them to considerably tone down their support for the opposing policy.

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