BEIRUT — Taymur Jumblatt, 35, on Sunday took over from his father Walid as leader of Lebanon’s small but influential Druze community, and heir to one of the country’s political dynasties.
Walid Jumblatt, 67, passed the torch to his son by placing a traditional keffiyeh scarf on his shoulders, during a ceremony in the Druze heartland village of Mukhtara in the Chouf mountains, southeast of Beirut.
“Oh Taymur, carry the heritage of your grandfather, the great Kamal Jumblatt,” Walid told his son, on the 40th anniversary of the murder of his father.
Kamal Jumblatt was killed in 1977 after opposing the entry of Syrian troops into Lebanon the previous year. His own father had also been assassinated.
“Carry high the keffiyeh of occupied Arab Palestine, the keffiyeh of progressive Lebanon, of the free men and the revolutionaries, of those who resist Israel wherever they are, of reconciliation and dialogue, the keffiyeh of modesty and generosity, the keffiyeh of Mukhtara,” Walid Jumblatt said.
Walid Jumblatt followed in his father’s footsteps in 1977, just two years into Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.
His armed supporters fought fierce battles with Christians in the Chouf during the war.
After decades of on-off support for Damascus, Walid Jumblatt in 2005 led a wave of mass protests that resulted in the pullout of Syrian troops from Lebanon after 29 years in the country.
Taymur Jumblatt takes up the mantle as head of a community that follows a secretive offshoot of Islam and makes up around five percent of Lebanon’s population, but has wielded political clout under his father.
Born in 1982 during the civil war, Taymur studied at the American University of Beirut, where he met his wife Diana Zeaiter, a Shiite Muslim, and at the Sorbonne in France. The couple has two children.