DEARBORN - Thursday evening at Byblos Banquet Hall, a reception was held for Lebanese Minister of Energy and Water Gebran Bassil, who was welcomed to the country for the first time as an official with a slew of guests that included Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, State Representative Phil Cavanagh, Lebanese Counsul General Bilal Kabalan, Wayne County Sheriff’s office officials, Dearborn Mayor Jack O'Reilly and Taylor Mayor Jeffery Lamarand and other local officials who were among several hundred guests who filled the banquet hall.
|Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano and Bassil pose after he was awarded a tribute from Wayne County. Bassil also received the key to the city from Dearborn Mayor Jack O’Reilly. PHOTO: Nafeh AbuNab/ TAAN|
Osama Siblani, publisher of The Arab American News was the emcee at the event and welcomed Minister Bassil to the banquet hall upon his arrival.
"The Lebanese community in this country loves its homeland and is becoming concerned as it watches its political leaders bickering and fighting, bringing the country to a stalemate at a time when basic needs are neglected, especially electricity and water.
"The American Lebanese community asks the Lebanese government and the political leaders of that country to respect the Lebanese people who suffered dearly from wars, occupation and destruction throughout the past four decades but remain steadfast in support of their country, and have patiently rebuilt it. They deserve respect and they should be given what others take for granted in other countries."
Minister Bassil had just arrived on a delayed flight from London straight into Detroit Metro Airport, where he was held up at security check, delaying the event which was supposed to start at 7:30 p.m. for over an hour.
Mayor Jack O'Reilly took the stage to give Minister Bassil a key to the city. Ficano also awarded the Lebanese official with a plaque of recognition on behalf of Wayne County. Once Bassil took the stage, he spoke to the audience in Arabic, recognizing the strong community in Dearborn while saying he was happy to be here despite the delay at airport security. Bassil stated that he was happy to see strong security as well as law and order at the airport, something he feels the country of Lebanon desperately needs to work on and improve.
Bassil stressed religious unity and also addressed the severe lack of electricity and shortage of clean drinking water that the Lebanese people are suffering from across the country. He believes that finding a solution to these issues is the government’s responsibility. According to Bassil, he has worked hard on trying to provide electricity for residents, by coming up with a proposal to provide energy through natural gas. However, representatives of a higher rank from various parties have declined his plan, saying it was too costly.
|Bassil addressing a capacity crowd at Byblos Banquet Hall in Dearborn on critical issues such as election laws, water and electricity shortages that are facing his homeland. PHOTO: Nafeh AbuNab/TAAN|
Minister Bassil urged Lebanese Americans to stand in solidarity and represent their nation proudly as he will continue to find resourceful ways to build better living conditions for the residents of Lebanon.
He will be in town until Saturday, and will on Friday address the American Middle East Christians Congress (AMMEC) at St. Sharbel Banquet Hall in Warren. He will also meet with local media and attend a private luncheon with Consul General Kabalan. On Saturday, Mr. Bassil will meet with members of the Patriotic Movement (Tayyer) Michigan chapter and later Saturday at noon will be attending a lunch reception in his honor at businessman Gabriel Issa’s residence in Bloomfield Hills before heading to Cleveland to meet with Lebanese Americans there.