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René Angélil, An Arab Prince

02/04/2016 03:43 EST | Updated 02/04/2017 05:12 EST
RTN/MediaPunch/MediaPunch/IPx
LAS VEGAS, NV - June 28: Celine Dion and René Angélil pictured as VÉRONIC Voices at Bally’s Las Vegas Opens on June 28, 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada. ©RTNRD / MediaPunch/IPX

I watched René's funerals. And what an amazing surprise to listen to this divine litany, in Arabic, in my very holy language, in René Abd al-Jalil's language, while it was in Québec.

And then, the pleasure to see His Grace Ibrahim. The Melkite Church celebrating René Angélil's funerals, by the side of the Roman Catholics. Thank you, Céline!

For real, thank you! Thank you for honoring your husband's Arab origins. René was an Arab. And he was more than just an Arab, he was a Melkite Syrian and an Arab prince. Are you surprised to hear this, dear Céline? Don't be. It's just the beginning.

Let's take a pause. I know that I'm writing for a North American public, so you're probably wondering who the Melkite Syrians are. Let's have a little bit of history lesson.

Melkites are Eastern Christians. Half of them are Orthodox and the other is Catholic, like René. But the most important thing is that they are the descendants of a very old and prestigious Arab tribe called the Ghassanids.

In fact, they're much more than just a tribe. Ghassanids are a tribal confederation, and they ruled an important kingdom in Syria between the third century and the Islamic conquest. Ghassanids were originating from Marib (in the current Yemen), which was the capital of the Kingdom of Saba in Arabia Felix.

After troubles, some South Arabian populations immigrated to Arabia Petraea, which is more famous under the name of the Nabataean Kingdom, whose capital, Petra (in the current Jordan), is known all around the world by the tourists.

These South Arabian tribes immigrated from Yemen to Jordan and Palestine, where they mixed with the North Arabian populations of the Nabatean Kingdom. There they established a kingdom in Syria, where there already were Quedarite North Arabian populations (Quedar is a son of Ismael, according to the Bible).

This was the Kingdom of Ghassanids.

Before Islam, most people in Yemen were either Jewish or Christian. In Syria, Ghassanid Arabs officially converted to Byzantine Christianity, but in fact, most of them were Jacobites or Miaphysites, as King al-Harith enabled the creation of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

And then there is René. A Ghassanid Melkite Syrian Arab! I know that it's complicated, but it's almost finished.

After the Islamic conquest, the very large majority of Ghassanids refused to become Muslim, and they are still Christian today, like René was. Because of the persecutions under the Caliphate, Ghassanid Arabs from Jordan and from North Hijaz immigrated to Syria, and then to Lebanon, where most of them became Maronite Christians. But Syria and Palestine kept being their homeland. Like for René's family, who comes from Damascus.

So, yes, René was an Arab. A Christian Arab with a pure and authentic Arab lineage.

After the Islamic conquest, the Christians couldn't marry with the Muslim women, and the children of the Christian women married with Muslim men were automatically Muslim. In the same time, non-Semitic and non-Arabian populations converted to Islam, like the Persians, the Kurds and the Turks.

The Arab Muslims mixed with these non Semitic and non Arabian populations. They also mixed with the converted populations from Caucasia. While the Christian (Ghassanid) Arabs couldn't mix with any other ethnic group of the region, because they were all Muslim.

So, they kept being pure Arabs, like René was.

René was from this incredible people. This people, whose authentic Arabity has been unaltered since 1600 years, since before the Council of Chalcedon. Do you know, dear Céline, that it's the Ghassanids who have handed most ancient inscriptions in Arabic down to us? Monumental inscriptions from the third century.

Yes, this is René's people, dear Céline.

We all know that you're a remarkable wife. You're a great woman with the best intentions. Remembering René's origins, I'm sure, was part of these intentions.

Your son's father was an Arab. He was the descendant of ancient Arabs. Please, make René-Charles remember it. It's his history. Now, René's people are dying because of fanatics and because of Western countries interference in our Greater Arab Nation.

Canada's first lady participated in René's funeral. You're more than just an incredible singer with an extraordinary voice. You're an example for the world. Millions of people listen to you.

So, helping René's people would be the best tribute, and he would have been very proud to see you become a real public figure with true public engagements. Didn't René say that "my Father was a true Arab?" Now, Arabs are massacred and they're facing the treat of extinction.

It's time. It's time for love, for your love that you sing so perfectly. Please, help the Syrian Arabs!

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