Every 22 November, Lebanon celebrates its independence day. This day recalls the time in 1943, in the midst of World War II, when the French government agreed to recognise the independence of Lebanon and when they released a number of imprisoned Lebanese leaders.
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The story of Lebanese independence is somewhat complex. For a brief time in 1941, lasting only a few months, Vichy France had control over Lebanon. But soon, Free French and British forces ended their rule. When Free French president Charles de Gualle visited Lebanon, Lebanese leaders asked him to end French rule of their land and recognise their independence. De Gaulle eventually agreed to their demands.
However, French forces stayed in actual control of Lebanon even after de Gaulle’s promise was made. An election was held in September of 1943, and in November, the elected leaders changed the Constitution so as to end the French Mandate. This led to the French arresting the “rebels” and exiling some of them in Rashaya Castle. Finally, on 22 November, the French yielded “for real” this time.
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