- Jun 14, 2021
Lebanon’s former foreign minister said Sunday that last week’s U.S. sanctions targeted him over alleged corruption because he repeatedly refused Washington’s calls to severe ties with Iran-backed Hezbollah, a powerful Lebanese militant and political group.
It was a century ago on Sept. 1, 1920, that a French general, Henri Gouraud, stood on the porch of a Beirut palace surrounded by local politicians and religious leaders and declared the State of Greater Lebanon — the precursor of the modern state of Lebanon.
It’s a well-kept secret of societies where Christians and Muslims rub shoulders that conversions from one faith to the other happen with sometimes surprising frequency. Muslims who embrace Christianity face special challenges, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, as a story from Lebanon about the time Jihad met the Virgin illustrates.
Many Westerners express sympathy for Christian victims of the genocide conducted by ISIS in Syria and Iraq, but might find actually listening to them a surprise. They’ll challenge Western stereotypes on at least three fronts: Syria’s Assad is a bad actor and must go; Hezbollah is part of Jihadism Inc. and a threat to Christians; and today’s most profound refugee crisis is in Europe.
Located in northern Lebanon just a few minutes from the border with Syria, the Greek Melkite Catholic village of El-Kaa faces multiple existential threats, including Islamic extremism, a severe economic slump, and the sudden influx of 1,500 Syrian Christian refugees on top of the local population of just 2,500. Despite it all, they’re determined to stay, with a soaring new church a symbol of their resilience.