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Christian town opens arms to Moslem refugees

July 22 2006

Christian town opens arms to Moslem refugees

by Henri Bou-Saab www.scoop.co.nz correspondent in The Republic of Lebanon

It is now the middle of summer in my village in Mount Lebanon, Dhour el-Choueir.

It is beautiful here, high up above the Sea, the heavy heat of Beirut on the coast cannot reach us

It is Friday afternoon.

Normally I would be down in that heat at my business, trying to find some customers to buy the beautiful Brazilian bathroom accessories that I sell.

But not today.

Not yesterday, either.

Not since the Israel air force decided to destroy Beirut’s brand new world-class international airport runways. There have been bombings in the very ancient Christian fishing village north called Byblos, bombs in the mainly Maronite Catholic Beirut suburbs of Hadaath and Ashrafi’eh and in the mixed Christian and Muslim village of Zahle as well.

Factories are being destroyed. Businesses blown up from the safety of the super jets.

Lebanese are keeping away from trucks after a truck carrying medical supplies was blown up .

Rita, my wife, works for pharmaceutical and medicine distribution company GlaxoSmithKline. The company is still distributing medicines, but Rita also has not been going into her office and she and our children, Christopher and Bryan, are here with us at my parents home in the Mountain.

So here I am stuck at home and not going into the office because trucks go past my office. The office is also close to the port and the air force bombed our world-class international seaport which is very close to my office in the Antellias suburb.

The history of Antellias is very interesting.

The Armenian Christians set up their church headquarters here after the destruction of the Armenian people by the Turkish Army in the 1920s.

In the 1920s, the communities of this Mountain - Greek Catholic, Greek Orthodox but mostly Marounite Catholic - we accepted the Armenian Orthodox and Armenian Catholic refugees escaping from their suffering in Turkey. And in 1948, Lebanon accepted the Palestine refugees that even to this day are still not allowed to return to their homeland, which is Israel and Israel should be responsible for them, but instead refuses to take responsibility for their needs.


But as much my family’s life has been turned upside down I know that what has happened to us is nothing, nothing compared to what’s happening in the South of my country.

The majority of people in South are Shii’aa. They are Muslim.

So far, most of the 300 Lebanese civilians that lost their lives in this total destruction of my country have been Shii’a and tens of thousands of these civilians are escaping to find refuge in other parts of the country.

My village has opened its arms to the refugees from the South. We are not just doing this because our church leaders told us to, but because we want to.

We want to help with shelter and with food. People are doing what they must do.

We open our churches to our Muslim brothers and sisters.

I am afraid that if the Israeli Airforce continues this war for a very long time then many more Lebanese Christians especially will join the other Lebanese Christians that have already left the country to go to America and Brazil and Canada and Argentina.

Not because we don’t love our country but because we get pushed into making a choice between what to do for our children, what is really best for them.

I don’t want to go. We don’t want to.

But whatever happens I will never fight against the Muslims just because that is what the Israeli Government wants me to do.

Israel wants a war between Muslims and Christians.

They can murder our civilians by the hundreds as they have already, but they can’t force us to kill each other on their behalf.

Never.

I promise you that.

ENDS

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