Speakers Christiane Amanpour, Assaad Chaftari, Muhieddine Chehab
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London England [audience clapping] Well done London. You just heard that powerful message about Lebanon and before that you heard from the Brazilian Culture Minister Gilberto Gil who wished peace, peace, peace Christiane Amanour - International Correspondent CNN but tragically as Lebanon has demonstrated again this week, it is always war that seems to be intruding on our reality. That civil war in Lebanon in 1975 that lasted about 16 years, was fought, among others, by these two gentlmen sitting right next to me on this stage. They fought on different sides. Assaad Chaftari was fighting with the Christian forces and Muhieddine Chehab was fighting with the Sunni Muslims forces then. Because this is not just about hard news, but about perceptions, I want to first ask Assaad: You joined the Lebanese militia in '75, on the Christian side. What was your perception, then, all those years ago about your enemy? Well, my enemies were the Palestinians and the Muslims then (Assaad Chaftari - Initiatives of Change) I'm sad to say that they were of a lower class, they were filthy, they were uneducated , and they were not trustworthy. For me, they were also traitors because they were fighting against the Lebanon that I wanted. A pro-west Lebanon, a Christian Lebanon. Those, even for me, are really harsh words. I've actually very rarely heard somebody describe their enemy in such personal terms, and he's basically talking about you, Muhieddine, and your fellow Muslims. What did you think about the Christians? Muhieddine Chehab - Initiatives of Change Exactly the opposite. The Christians meant to me, they were all enemies, all the Christians were in one basket. They are traitors, they are pro-Israelis and the sign of cross meant to me it is a dagger, wants to kill the Muslims I always used to say Christians are not better than Muslims. They should be equal in the country and we should fight them in oder to take these assertives from them, so Christians to me were enemies, enemies and nothing else. The reason you two are here is because you actually triumphed over those feelings of hate and enmity and after the war, you did something that went beyond the hating. You came together to create a different reality. But how could you after those deep feelings that you're expressing right now of dehumanizing the other side? You know, this is a culture of hatred. We lived in a background of a culture of hatred. Each one of us lived in a fanatic society which taught them how to hate, taught them how to be ugly. and to fight for a cause which he believed that is right, but after a while he discovered that what he was doing was totally wrong. So what did you do when you decided to move forward and to show actually that the two sides could live together? How did you do it? Well, first of all, I had to change many things in my life on a very personal basis. My way of looking and seeing the others as they really were, not as I saw it or wanted them to be. This was the first step. Once I came to certain conclusions I had to change in my life, it was not enough to keep these things for me. So I addressed a public apology in the press saying to my victims, or to the families of my victims that I was sorry. I was asking for their forgiveness and also I promised those who had harmed me that I had to forgive them to and that I did forgive them. Let me ask you, this incredible explosion of violence, we've only got 30 seconds left, How has this happened and where's the hope that this won't happen again, even though you are living proof there can be a move forward? In fact, we are very sorry to what's happening in Beirut, just to say that. My little daughter, yesterday, she's only seven years old I was talking to her. She told me "Dad, please come back to Beirut quickly to stop these clashes." And she was in the shelters and she was shivering, so I think this is a message that we have to change our country and we have to carry on our message of reconciliation and forgiveness. Muhieddine and Assaad thank you very much, and that was a very positive way to close. Back to you, Lisa. [audience cheers]
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