Christians in Lebanon, a country established as a sanctuary for the persecuted religious minority group in the Middle East, have lost most of their lands and majority status to Muslims, placing their future in peril, Breitbart News learned from some representatives of Lebanese Christian political parties.
In addition to the drop in their population and losing territory, the Lebanese Christians are facing persecution at the hands of Islamic extremists, particularly during the ongoing Muslim holy month of Ramadan, expected to run from the evening of May 26 thru June 24.
“We [Lebanese Christians] went thru several genocides and persecutions. All our history back from 1400 years have been paved by persecutions,” Dr. Fouad Abou Nader, the leader and founder of the Liberty Front (LF) Christian party in Lebanon, told Breitbart News.
LF is one of the most prominent Christian political movements in Lebanon, considered a safe haven for the religious minority group.
“The main purpose [of establishing Lebanon] was to create a sanctuary for the continuously prosecuted Christians,” an official from a new Christian political party in Lebanon told Breitbart News on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation. “Lebanon might be the last sanctuary country in the Middle East for Christians but will not remain so pending recent developments mainly because we are diminishing in numbers and are starting to lose our power and representation in the government.”
“The Christians’ future in Lebanon is in great danger,” added the official. “If the Christians are now able to put together a strategic plan to ensure their continuity for the next 25 years, they might have a chance in remaining in this land. Otherwise, we are diminishing by the day.”
Dr. Nader mentioned that the influx of Muslim refugees into Lebanon, particularly Syrians and Palestinians, is fueling “a deadly demographic imbalance” in the country, considered a safe haven for Christians.
“Their [Muslim refugees] presence creates a lot of problems for Lebanon, its economy, its development, its growth, its security, its borders, its demography, its political stability, its religious balance, etc.,” declared the Christian party leader, adding that a “law naturalized hundred of thousands of foreign Muslims.”
As in previous years, the religious minority group is facing an increased threat from jihadist groups on Ramadan.
“There are ongoing expectations of terrorist attacks all year around in Lebanon considering the circumstances. The risk escalates during Ramadan as jihadists call for an increase of suicidal attacks,” noted the anonymous Christian party official.
Referring to jihadi attacks against Christians during the holy month, the official added, “This re-occurring situation has worsened throughout the past few years since the establishment of Daesh [Islamic State] and other similar terrorist groups.”
A wave of Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-linked suicide bombers targeted Christians in Lebanon during Ramadan 2016, killing at least five and wounding an estimated 28 others.
So far during this year’s Ramadan, there have been no attacks in Lebanon.
“The Lebanese Army is on full alert and always takes extra precautions during this month in order to protect the citizens; especially the Christians that seem to be the main target,” the anonymous official told Breitbart News.
Ramadan usually marks a spike in Islamic terrorist attacks across the world.
Terrorist groups urge their followers to engage in jihad, telling them that martyrs and jihadists are rewarded extra during the holy month.
Once a majority, Christians in Lebanon currently make up an estimated 40 percent of the country’s population.
“In a statistics done by the French in cooperation with the Lebanese army in 1946, 80% of the land was owned by the Christians: the Maronites alone owned 68 percent while the other Christian sects owned 12 percent. Today, all the Lebanese Christians combined own 39 percent,” revealed Mr. Talal al-Doueihy, the founder of Lebanese Land-Our Land Movement.
The anonymous official and Dr. Nader, both Christians, told Breitbart News that a low birth rate among the now Christian minority group and a significant influx of migrants, mainly Muslim Syrians and Palestinians, are driving the drop in population and the loss of territory.
Syrians and Palestinians, both predominantly Muslim, come from countries that border Lebanon. The anonymous official estimated that more than 2 million Syrian refugees and around 550,000 Palestinian refugees have traveled into Lebanon.
The anonymous Christian party official pointed out that birth rate of Muslim Christians and Palestinians is higher than that of their Christian counterparts, expanding the majority status of Islam adherents.
Dr. Nader and the official, both Christians, mentioned that policies imposed by Muslims and the high cost of living in Lebanon has forced many Christians to sell their land to survive.
Moreover, Dr. Nader and the anonymous Christian party official acknowledged that Lebanon was created as a safe haven for Middle Eastern Christians.
“So Lebanon is the only country in the Middle East, where Christians and all other minorities can live on the basis of freedom, equality, dignity, and security,” Nader told Breitbart News. “When we see how all the Arab and Islamic countries of the region are treating Christians like second-class citizens, we understand the importance of this only free and democratic country.”