“Lebanon has always been a bastion of religious tolerance, but now it is moving toward the model of Islamization seen in Iraq and Egypt.”
File photo: another day, another bomb goes off in the Christian quarter
BEIRUT: Christians are tempted to flee Lebanon as the country becomes increasingly “Islamized,” according to the founder of the Center for Arab Christian Research and Documentation (CEDRAC). One-third of the nation’s Christian population has left since the beginning of the 1975-90 Civil War, and a recent surge in emigration means Christians now make up just 34 percent of Lebanon’s population, Father Samir Khalil, a Jesuit teacher at Beirut’s St. Joseph University’sCEDRAC department, told Vatican Radio last week.
“Christians used to make up 50 percent of the nation’s population; now experts think the Christians are probably not exceeding 34 percent, which is worrying,” Khalil said in the radio interview during a visit to The Holy See.
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The Beirut-based researcher expressed concern that Christians in the Arab world are moving abroad to places with higher Christian populations, such as America, Europe and Australia, which is increasing the Muslim majority in countries like Lebanon.
“The same is happening [all over] the Middle East, and this is certainly a very tragic situation, and it will have great consequences in the future,” Father Khalil warned last week on the Vatican Radio station, adding that Christians must stay in the Middle East to keep numbers up.
Large numbers of Lebanese Christians are leaving as they feel their traditional influence in their country is weakening, while an increasing number of crucial political positions are going to Muslims.
In reference to Islamic extremism, Khalil claimed the power of the influential Christian minority to counterbalance it was waning, saying: “Lebanon has always been a bastion of religious tolerance, but now it is moving toward the model of Islamization seen in Iraq and Egypt.”…
The results of a poll released last year show that nearly half of all Maronites, the largest Christian denomination in the country – making up about 22 percent of the population – said they are considering emigrating….
In the survey conducted by Information International, an independent Beirut body,many Christians cited the growing influence of March 8 faction Hizbullah in Lebanon as a reason for their decision to leave….