Christians in the Middle East
Position Statement by the Lebanese Information Center
Presented to the IDC Inaugural Summit
in Washington DC
was born, raised, persecuted, and celebrated
in the mountains and deserts of the Middle
East. As their faith spread to all corners
of the world, Christians have remained an
integral part of the evolution of the Middle
East, its populace, and its political
Throughout centuries of hardship and
prosperity, suffering and jubilation,
conquest and liberation, the Christians have
persevered and have established themselves
as true partners in that land.
In Lebanon, in particular, the
Christians have taught the whole world the
true meaning of perseverance and have
managed to make of their mountains a
sanctuary for all those persecuted around
years, the “Arab Spring” has shaken the
region and the world.
The peoples of the Arab world have
awoken and have decided to rid themselves of
the dictatorships that have abused them and
hindered their progress and freedom
throughout their modern history.
Decades of oppression, however, had
also created a very fertile ground for
extremist ideologies to flourish under the
guise of religious fervor. These fanatics
are no better than the dictators themselves.
They teach hatred, brand all who do
not share their radical line, whether
non-Muslims or Muslims, as “infidels” and
promote the spilling of their blood as a
The rise of
these extremists in the Arab World
especially in the Levant has led many to
argue that Christians have lost all
prospects of security and that their future
in the region is bleak at best.
In Syria, Christians are led to
believe that they have two options: (a)
support Assad because he will protect them
or (b) surrender to the extremists who would
“inevitably” replace him.
In Iraq, Christians are left with
even bleaker options: (a) submit to the
Caliphate State, pay the “Jizya” and
live in complete submission; (b) convert to
Islam; (c) flee and abandon their ancestral
homes, culture and heritage or (d) die.
propagators of such arguments fail to
acknowledge is that, be it in Iraq or Syria,
all religious minorities as well as Muslim
moderates are suffering alongside the
What they also fail to point out is
that a radical religious regime is not the
foregone alternative to dictatorships.
In fact, the Syrian revolution was
sparked by people who wanted nothing but
freedom and the right to self-determination.
Excessive deferment, the horrendous
brutality of the regime and a shamefully
lethargic international community are what
allowed the extremists to become more
prominent in the struggle.
The defeat of
these virulent extremists is an absolute
must, but their defeat will come neither
from alignment with other forms of
dictatorships, be it Assad in Syria or the
Ayatollahs in Iran nor from the so-called
“coalition of minorities.”
Their defeat can only come from the
moderates in these countries aided by the
that leave the Christians in the Middle East
and in Syria and Iraq in particular?
At its core,
Christianity is bearing witness to the
True Christians, therefore, can never
support or condone the brutal oppression of
tyrannical regimes, such as that of Assad in
Furthermore, the argument that
dictatorships can protect religious
minorities is utterly false and misleading.
For more than three decades, the
Lebanese, especially the Christians, had
suffered death and destruction at the hands
of the Baathist regime of the Assads and
were subjected to the same savagery now
being inflicted on the Syrian people.
Indeed, far from protecting Christians –
Iraqi Christians, for example – Bashar Assad
harbored and aided the jihadists that
incited chaos and inflamed sectarian
divisions in neighboring Iraq.
These very same jihadists have now
metamorphosed into the Caliphate State.
supporting the dictatorships might achieve,
at the very best, is the delay but
inevitable exacerbation of the problem.
Syria, Iraq and the rest of the Arab World
have no option but to persevere, as have
their ancestors before them.
They have to side with justice and
bear witness to the truth because that is at
the very core of what defines them.
They cannot support the oppressor nor
can they stand idly by on the sidelines and
wait for things to work in their favor.
They must take an active role, stand
with the moderates among their compatriots
and rebuild their respective countries
The only real
guarantee for the Christians and other
minorities in the Middle East is in the
establishment of democratic systems of
government based on fundamental freedoms,
equality and human rights.
These systems can never exist under
self-proclaimed “secular” dictatorships or
under religious extremist rule.
But these systems would also never
come to be if the stakeholders stand on the
sidelines, or worse, on the wrong side of
the international community, particularly
the United States, cannot remain mere
observers while appalling crimes against
humanity are committed in Syria and Iraq nor
can they simply issue bland statements while
allowing extremists to further consolidate
their power and oppress the moderates.
The longer the atrocities continue,
the easier it becomes for the extremists to
radicalize more people and the longer the
extremists maintain power, the harder it
becomes for the moderates to replace them.
international community, with the United
States at its helm, has a moral obligation
and a critical interest in the matter.
No effort must be spared to bring an
end to the massacres in Syria and Iraq and
to actively support the voices of moderation
and inclusiveness in the Arab world.
Failing to do so will ultimately
result in a geographically and
demographically massive breeding ground for
radicals and terrorists.
only would the Christians and minorities in
that region suffer, but the rest of the
world as well.