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Bechara al-Rahi… A moment of your time | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The Lebanese Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Rahi’s statement about the grave danger of the al-Assad regime collapsing in Syria, and the subsequent threat to the Christians and their existence in the Levant, still resonates and provokes reaction after reaction. This statement has thrown a stone in a pool of water that wasn’t still in the first place, but now its ripples have certainly intensified.

I would like to advise the Maronite Patriarch to kindly read Kamal Dib’s extremely significant book entitled “The Fall of Christian Lebanon “, issued by al-Nahar publishing house in 2004. The book gives an account of Lebanon’s modern history from 1920 onwards, complete with a prediction of how the state of affairs will be in 2020. I consider Kamal Dib to be the most prominent author in Lebanon, due to his constant research into the country’s political roots and all related social, economic and cultural dimensions, using accurate academic documentation in his discourse. The significance of this particular book is that it argues that the number of Lebanese Christians is constantly in decline for several reasons.

For economic reasons, the early 19th century witnessed waves of migrations taking Lebanese Christians to North and South America in large numbers. Subsequently, other migrations occurred following World Wars I and II, along with migrations to Europe, Africa, the Gulf region and Australia during and after the Lebanese civil war. In fact, the Christians migrated from Lebanon for a variety of reasons; some of which related to consecutive generations of migrants, as was clearly detailed by Amin Maalouf in his book “Ports of Call.”

Of course, there are other factors [contributing to the Christian decline in Lebanon]. Inter-Christian conflicts for social rank and status later led to killings and displacement, as was expressed in the sad tales of Ehden, Zagharta and Kasrawan by Kamal Salibi in his famous book on Lebanon’s history. This was also highlighted by competent Western writer Jonathan Randal in his book “Going all the way”; in which he spoke of the inter-Christian Maronite conflict during the Lebanese civil war, which revealed the extent of the Christians’ problems and miseries embedded in Lebanon.

As for Bechara al-Rahi’s statement in which he quoted “as evidence” what happened to the Christians in Iraq and their displacement from there, and comparing what happened in Iraq to the current Arab revolutions, this is akin to drawing a comparison between apples and oranges. This is because what happened in Iraq was a direct result of a US invasion, whereas the revolution taking place in Syria now is a clear and explicit accumulation of years of repression carried out by a despotic regime against its own people. The Syrians have sacrificed thousands of victims for their cause, not to mention the humiliation and insult they have suffered.

John Paul II, the former Pope of the Catholic Church, to which the Maronite community belongs, had come from Poland, a country that long suffered from the tyranny and oppression of the former Soviet Union. Pope John Paul II supported and assisted the West in its quest to demolish the Eastern Bloc, thus granting freedom to the eastern Europeans. In this endeavour, Pope John Paul II acted contrary to current Pope Benedict XVI, who has failed to take any explicit action towards what is happening in general to the Christians in the Middle East (note that the largest displacement of Christians has occurred at the hands of the Jews in Palestine, the birthplace of the Christ, which today is facing the threat of being emptied entirely of Christians).

The current Pope and Bechara al-Rahi must take the truth into consideration and state that the Middle East will be better without tyrants or despotic regimes, and that Christianity and the Christians in the region will be safeguarded by free societies, not enslaved citizens. Yet it is clear that Bechara al-Rahi himself is a prisoner of the political sins committed previously in Lebanon, for which he is obliged to pay a high tax in order to guarantee his survival and continuity, in what can be termed as the credibility tax.

I wish that Bechara al-Rahi would take a moment and sincerely review what he said, because “glory” in heaven and on earth is not possible without saying the truth.