- Jul 12, 2020
Faced with a stunning influx of 1.5 million Syrian refugees in a country whose population was only a little over four million to begin with, Lebanon is struggling to avoid fracturing along native/refugee lines. In the campaign to promote integration between the two groups, few social forces are as active as the Catholic Church, as both a school and a free meal service in the city of Zahle illustrate.
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.
Right now, it’s impossible to say whether Christianity will survive in Iraq or Syria. Yet one thing can be said with certainty: If it does, it will be because of groups such as Aid to the Church in Need, which has been leading a “Dunkirk in reverse,” aimed not at getting Christians out but helping them to stay.
In the northern city of Aleppo, Christians celebrated Christmas for the first time in four years with the country’s largest city now under full control of government forces, and President Bashar al-Assad made a visit to a Christian orphanage near Damascus.
Genocide is the accurate description for the fate of Christians, especially in areas controlled by the Islamic State, speakers at the Sheen Center for Thought & Culture forum agreed.