Rotary in Syria Syria, officially Syrian Arab Republic (Arabic: ? ,)?????? ? ??? ???? ???????? ?? is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest. The name Syria formerly comprised the entire region of the Levant, while the modern state encompasses the site of several ancient kingdoms and empires, including the Eblan civilization of the third millennium BC.
In the Islamic era, its capital city, Damascus, was the seat of the Umayyad Empire and a provincial capital of the Mamluk Empire. Damascus is widely regarded as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world1. Modern Syria was created as a French mandate and attained independence in April 1946, as a parliamentary republic. The post-independence period was rocky, and a large number of military coups and coup attempts shook the country in the period 1949-1970. Syria has been under Emergency Law since 1962.
Rotary clubs started in Syria in the late thirties of the twentieth century. In the year 1936/1937, Clare Martin Area manager of Shell Oil Company, first 2District Governor of District 83, later a Director of Rotary International was well involved in chartering a number of the Rotary Clubs the District. Members of Beirut Rotary club were interested to organizing clubs in Damascus and Aleppo3. In April, 19384 Rotary International president Maurice DuPerrey after attended the District 83 Conference in Beirut; He was honored with Lebanese Medal of Merit.
Then he went to Damascus and presented the Charter to the Rotary club of Damascus in Syria, the first Rotary Club in the world to conduct its meeting in the Arabic language. 5 He also contacted prospective Rotarians from Baghdad, but seems unsuccessful as the first club in Iraq was chartered after 18 years. In Syria, Rotary International president was honored with the Grand Cordon of the Syrian Order of Merit. Few names appear in the Rotarian magazine about Rotarians in Syria.
The most prominent founder member of Damascus Rotary club was Faris Khoury6 who later became an honorary member. He was a member of the Ottoman Parliament7, minister of finance, president of Syrian Parliament, Prime minister 1944 -1945 then 1954-1955 Another prominent member of Damascus club was Shukri Kuwatly the President of Syria 1943-1949 and again in 1955 to 1958 when he promoted the United Arab Republic united Syria with Egypt. 1 2 Neolithic Tell Ramad in the Damascus Basin of Syria.
Proceedings of the 27th annual convention page 406 3 Proceedings of the 26th annual convention page 95 4 Proceeding of the 29th Rotary Convention page 508 5 Proceedings of the 29th Rotary Convention page 28 6 Australia first Rotary Club page 78 7 All the area were ruled by the Ottoman Empire from Sami El Midani 1958/1959 PHD in law, a prominent lawyer, fluent in Arabic, English, French, German and Turkish languages. President of the Syrian Lawyer Bar 1945/1946. He was a Judge in the court of Foreign Cases.
He used to teach International Law in Damascus law institute, became the President of the Syrian University in Damascus 1952/1954. Member of Rotary Club of Damascus, District Governor for District 195 for the year 1958/1959 Naim El Antaki past president8 of Damascus Rotary club was minister of foreign affairs in Syria in 1943 he was a member of the Syrian delegation at the founding conference of the United Nation with Faris Khoury Other members, as Charles Gedeon, Gaberial Bustros, The Damascus Rotary club main projects were working against Malaria 9 and combating illiteracy.
The 10project started in 1944, with the cooperation of the public health authority in combating Malaria. Club members founded a school of illiterates in 1945 for laborers, a program for teaching reading and writing for two hours a day for a period of two months11. Rotary International President Jouaquin Serratosa Ciblis visited Syria in 1953/1954 pins an emblem to commemorate his visit to Adib Chichakli president of Syria. The head of state made Rotary leader a commander of “Order Du Merite Syrien” Souheil El Khoury Secretary of Damascus club attended that ceremony. 2 At that journey Rotary International President visited other countries in the District, he passed by Egypt and met General Mohamed Naguib president of the Republic of Egypt (an Honorary member of Rotary) when Rotary Cairo celebrated it 25th anniversary, he was presented a diamond pin by DG Yehia El-Alaili; and in Lebanon met Camille Chamoun President of Lebanon. Syrian stamps were issued in 1955 in commemoration of Rotary Golden Anniversary. Syria issued 4 stamps two for honored the Rotary International conference and two for the anniversary. Rotarian Magazine : July 1945 page 64 9 Proceedings of 36 annual convention page 37 10 Rotarian Magazine December 1944 page 6 11 Rotarian Magazine December 1947 page 43 and March 1948 page 15 12 The Rotarian February 1954 Rotary stamps issued by the Syrian Government 1955 The last District Governor from Syria was, Past District governor Anis Chebat ? )?? ??? (? ? ???? from Rotary club of Damascus 1963/1964 and then was a member of Rotary Club of Beirut in 1965/1966 when replaced DG Fouad Ammoun of Beirut club13, Lebanon who resigned.
He was a Civil engineer, former president of Casino of Lebanon, professor of ESIB, moved to Lebanon after 1965 died in Lebanon 1990. Other than Damascus which was chartered at 6th September 1938, The Aleppo Rotary club was Chartered at 26th May 1945, Lattakia Chartered at 16th June 1954, and the fourth club was Homs Chartered at 2nd December 1959 Although there is no direct or indirect relation between Rotary International and Freemasons, many people in the Middle East and other counties14, thought that Rotary is a form of Masonry.
This led to much more serious problems that disbanded Freemasonry and Rotary as well. The profound irony in the relation between Rotary clubs and people of the Middle East made Rotary International to encounter more criticism, more disapproval and more outright from people and some governmental institutions. It started in Iraq (1958), followed by Syria (1965), Libya (1969), South Yemen (1970), Iran (1979) and Algeria (1980). In Syria, the government at 10 August 1965 issued Order No. 25 that prohibited all Freemasonic Lodges operating in the country, followed by Order No. 6 that 13 Rotarian March 1966 page 3 14 Rotary, Freemasonry and Catholic Church by Basil Lewis 15 July 2008 cancelled all Rotary International clubs in Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and all parts of Syria if any. The District Governor, in 1966, had recommended patience before taking any action, but in November 1968 thought that enough time had elapsed. Thus in 24th January 1969 the board agreed and membership of the four Syrian clubs was terminated. 15 RGHF Member Mousa Sindaha 15 The end of World War Two other changes to the Rotary map, by Basil Lewis, 16th March 2003