The Arslan family is one of the longest established political dynasties in the District of Aley. Since the 1800s, the family’s name has become synonymous with revolution, patriotism and independence.
Emir Majid Toufic Arslan (Arabic: الأمير مجيد توفيق أرسلان) (February 1908 — 18 September, 1983) was a Lebanese Druze leader and head of the Arslan feudal Druze ruling family. He was the leader of the Yazbaki faction.
Emir Majid Arslan was a national political figure with a role in Lebanon’s independence, a long-running Member of the Lebanese Parliament and a government minister for many times with a number of important ministerial portfolios, most notably Defense, Health, Telecommunications, Agriculture and Justice.
Emir Majid Arslan was the son of Emir Toufic Arslan who helped found Greater Lebanon in 1920. He had three brothers (Nouhad, Riad, Melhem) and a sister (Zahia). Emir Majid studied at the famous French school, Mission Laïque Française.
In 1932, he married his cousin, Emira Lamiss Shehab. She bore him two sons: Emir Toufic (1935–2003) and Emir Faysal (1941–2009).
In 1956, after his first wife’s death, Emir Majid remarried Khawla Jumblatt. She bore him three daughters (Zeina, Rima, and Najwa) and a son, Talal, current Head of the House of Arslan and a Druze leader.
Emir Majid was known for his exceptional skills in horsemanship and would often exercise his hobby in a southern village El Mageedieh, named after him.
Emir Majid Arslan ran for parliamentary elections in 1931 and won the Druze seat of Aley District. His allies also won the elections. From 1931 until his death in 1983, he and his allies would win all the parliamentary elections of 1934, 1937, 1943, 1947, 1951, 1953, 1957, 1960, 1964, 1968 and 1972.
Over a period of 35 years, Emir Majid Arslan held various ministerial posts.
• October 1937: Minister of Agriculture
• September 1943: Minister of Health & Defense
• July 1944: Minister of Health & Defense
• May 1946: Minister of Health & Defense
• December 1946: Minister of Telecommunications & Defense
• June 1947: Minister of Telecommunications & Defense
• July 1948: Minister of Agriculture & Defense
• October 1949: Minister of Defense
• February 1954: Minister of Health & Defense
• July 1955: Minister of Defense
• March 1956: Minister of Defense
• November 1956: Minister of Health & Minister of Agriculture
• August 1957: Minister of Telecommunications & Defense
• March 1958: Minister of Agriculture
• August 1960: Minister of Defense
• October 1961: Minister of Defense
• October 1968: Minister of Defense & Justice
• January 1969: Minister of Defense
• November 1969: Minister of Defense
• May 1969: Minister of Defense
• July 1973: Minister of State
• October 1974: Minister of Health
• July 1975: Minister of Health & Agriculture & Housing
Emir Majid Arslan was the leader of the independence of Lebanon in 1943 when the president Bechara El Khoury with fellow ministers were taken to prison to Rachaya by the French.
On 10 November 1943, the French retaliated by arresting the Lebanese President Bechara El Khoury, Prime Minister Riad Solh and ministers Camille Chamoun, Adel Osseiran and Abdul Hamid Karami. The French used Senegalese mercenaries to transport these political prisoners to Rashaya Fort in the Beqaa Valley. Ministers Majid Arslan, Sabri Hamadeh and Habib Abi Shahla escaped the arrest because they were not in their homes that night. One of Emir Majid’s brothers also escaped to Majdel Baana to seek refuge there among members of the Abdel Khalek family.
On 11 November 1943, Emir Majid Arslan, Hamadeh and Abi Shahla created the “Government of Free Lebanon” with Habib Abi Shahla as Prime Minister and Majid Arslan as Head of National Guard. Their headquarters were in Bchamoun, a village 30km from Beirut, at the residences of Hussein and Youssef El Halabi.
In Ain Anoub, a fight ensued and liberators prevailed over the French. At that time Majid Arslan declared a Free Lebanon from the home of the Halabi family in Bchamoun where he sought refuge from the arrests. Meanwhile, disturbances and riots raged all over Lebanon. The Deputies held a secret session during which they drew and signed on a new flag that they handed over to the cabinet of Bchamoun.
On 21 November 1943, due to riots and open strikes, the armed rebellion of Ain Anoub and the interference of Arab and Western states (mainly Britain), the political prisoners were released. The freed prisoners passed by Bchamoun on their way back home, to thank the rebels. There, they sang the Lebanese National Anthem and Majid Arslan knelt and kissed the flag – this photograph has become a symbol of Lebanese Independence. On 22 November 1943, Lebanon was proclaimed an independent state.