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Kaweishra: A Turkish village in Lebanon

"We're Turks," Mamoud Ahmec, a resident of Kaweishra, said proudly.

04.12.2013
Kaweishra: A Turkish village in Lebanon

BEIRUT

In this small, remote village in northern Lebanon, the red Turkish flag with its white crescent and star hangs from balconies and is painted on walls.

"We're Turks," Mamoud Ahmec, a resident of Kaweishra, said proudly.

"After Ottoman rule ended in Lebanon, we decided to stay on our land," he told Anadolu Agency. "We still maintain our Turkish language and traditions."

When the Ottoman Turks left Lebanon in 1914, the inhabitants of Kaweishra – most of whom were of Turkish origin – decided to stay on.

Hundreds of miles from their ancestral homeland in Turkey, they have been able to pass their mother tongue and unique culture and traditions along to their children.

"I'm proud of the village's Ottoman history and Turkey's modern-day development," said Ahmec, who is in his 90s.

Most village residents, including Ahmec, are famers, making their living by planting maize, wheat, barley and grain.

Some depend on money sent home by their sons serving in the Lebanese army or in state institutions.

The village, located some 131km north of Lebanese capital Beirut, has recently come to the fore in light of stepped-up Turkish efforts to strengthen its relations with Arab states.

Since 2009, a number of Turkish officials have visited the village, including a 2010 visit by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

-Turkish bonds-

Ahmec thanked Turkey for "bringing the name of Kaweishra into the spotlight and making it a center of interest through its aid and support."

He added: "We love Turkey and love those who love it."

Kaweishra Mayor Mustafa Khedr likewise hailed Turkish assistance to the village, saying Turkish contributions had helped improve living conditions in the remote region.

"Turkey has offered, and is still offering, assistance to the village," Khedr told AA. "The most important project [to be funded by Turkey] was a water plant that the village had needed for years."

The mayor also noted Turkey's significant contributions to the local education sector.

"Turkey built a high school for our sons, while another is currently under construction," Khedr said.

"Free scholarships were also given to our students," he added, noting that 50 young Kaweishra natives were currently pursuing postgraduate studies in Turkey.

Many Kaweishra locals have recently taken steps towards their homeland by applying for Turkish citizenship through the embassy in Lebanon, Khedr pointed out.

"I hope they will grant us the Turkish nationality," Khaled Asaad, who has painted the façade of his home with the Turkish flag, told AA.

"I wanted to show my love and appreciation for Turkey," he said, referring to the wall painting.

"Our roots are Turkish," Asaad added, "but we also love Lebanon and its people."

englishnews@aa.com.tr

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