chapter  1
3 Pages

Butrus al-Bustani

From the beginning Butrus al-Bustani (1819-83) did not fear expressing his own mind. He was born in the village of Dabya in the Lebanon and graduated from the Patriarchal School in 'Ayn Waraqa, but in 1840 he left the Maronite faith for Protestantism and fled to Beirut, fearing death from emissaries of the Maronite Patriarch, who had put a price on his head. He began then to assist in the activities of American missionaries in the Levant and worked for a time as an interpreter in the American and French consulates in Beirut. The 1860 massacres in the Lebanon and in Damascus constituted a turning point in his life. He left missionary activities and began to work for greater Arab cultural homogeneity among the Syrians, which he hoped would lead to the creation of a common consciousness and then patriotic feelings among the Syrians.1