The Life of Hala Salam Maqsoud:
Political activist strove to be ‘true image of the Arab citizen’

Extract from Speech by Karine Raad
Courtesy of Lebanonwire, 18 October 2003
Daily Star staff

A moving ceremony was held at the American University of Beirut (AUB)’s Assembly Hall on Thursday to commemorate the life of political activist Hala Salam Maqsoud, who died this week after a lengthy struggle with cancer.
Following the national anthem, AUB president John Waterbury praised Maqsoud’s lifelong efforts to consolidate, promote and spread the principles she believed in: “Maqsoud strived with determination to reflect the true image of the Arab citizen in the United States,” Waterbury said.

Maqsoud, born in Lebanon in 1943, was the daughter of two prominent political families, the Karamis and the Salams. She majored in mathematics and later in political and philosophical studies, worked as a professor in Washington and was an active member of the Arab-US Association to Fight Racial Discrimination.

She married Clovis Maqsoud, former ambassador of the Arab League to Washington and the United Nations, and professor at the American University in Washington.

Professor of political science Nayla Hamade shared with the participants her experiences with Maqsoud in the US, pointing out Maqsoud’s commitment, objectivity and clear vision in her activities.

In his eulogy, Batroun MP Butros Harb said that democracy and man’s right to decide his own destiny, two principles that constituted Maqsoud’s life work, prompted him to share his concerns with the upcoming challenges the country is facing.

The MP stressed that the current crisis did not respect democracy or human rights. “We join our calls to yours and ask God to give us wisdom and courage to restore some freedom and decent democracy,” Harb added.

Participant Aziza Abdel-Aini highlighted the characteristics of Maqsoud, particularly her ability to garner the support of diplomats’ wives in some of her activities despite many countries’ disapproval of activities promoting women’s rights.

Speaking on behalf of the Arab-US Association to Fight Racial Discrimination, Nayla Asseili said Maqsoud was a superb example of a woman struggling to fight for Arab rights in the international arena and in the United States.
Former Prime Minister Salim Hoss described Maqsoud as a fighter waging a war against sectarianism and striving for human rights and democracy, as well as public freedoms. “With her vitality and abundant achievements, Hala was to skeptics the proof of the Arab woman’s capability of shining in public affairs,” Hoss said.

Former Jordanian minister Layla Sharaf said that Maqsoud’s convictions prompted her to participate in student demonstrations as an expression of her patriotism. “Hala has lived the years of the big Arab dream,” Sharaf said.

Courtesy of the Daily Star

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