Over more than a century, the Armenian community has grown to become one of Lebanon’s most prominent and productive, and one whose identity gracefully fused with Lebanon’s, giving rise to a unique, culturally-rich demographic.
Seeking refuge from Ottoman persecution, the first Armenians to step foot in Lebanon as a direct result of the appalling 1915 Armenian Genocide were warmly welcomed by the Lebanese who empathized with their suffering under Ottoman rule.
After surviving what was recognized as the first modern genocide, and initially settling in shanty towns in Lebanon, the Armenian population gradually grew, expanded, and flourished until Beirut became an epicenter of Armenian culture, and also Lebanese towns like Anjar.
With time, the Armenians gave back to Lebanon and established themselves as an inseparable community within Lebanese society and vital contributors to the country’s different sectors.
Promoting their Lebanese-Armenian identity, they have had their fair share of achievements in the domains of education, media, music, politics, business and entrepreneurship, and others.
Moreover, the 150,000+ Lebanese-Armenians living in Lebanon today enjoy political representation in 6 seats in the Lebanese Parliament, in addition to one ministerial position, and have established several political parties in the country.
Some renowned Lebanese-Armenians are:
In media:Paula Yacoubian (renowned TV host, journalist; currently an MP), Neshan Der Haroutiounian (TV host, media trainer), Zaven Kouyoumdjian (talk show host, producer, media consultant), and Mariam Nour (TV personality).
In sports: Gretta Taslakian (record-holding Olympian sprinter), Vartan Ghazarian (football manager, former footballer), and Hagob Donabedian (football manager, former footballer).
Others: Sylva Channessian (Miss Lebanon and 1973 Miss World Finalist), Mkrtich Mazmanian (figurative sculptor), John Dolmayan (drummer, songwriter), Serouj Kradjian (composer, pianist, accompanist), and Arsinée Khanjian (actress, producer).
On a side note, Lebanon was one of the region’s first nations to recognize the Armenian Genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire, and the very first Arab League member to do so.
In May 2000, the Lebanese Parliament approved a resolution calling for the commemoration of the Genocide’s 82nd anniversary and called on all Lebanese citizens to unite with the Armenian people every April 24th to commemorate it.