Recent upheavals in Lebanon are making local Christians communities worry about their existence as heirs and descendants of the first Christians. Christians in the Middle East now are facing a huge genocide -- similar to the Christian genocide the followed the Islamic conquest of the Middle East in the 7th century A.D.
Islamic jihadist groups are threatening Lebanese Christians and demanding that they submit to Islam. Lebanon's Christians, descendants of Aramaic Syriacs, were the majority in the country a mere 100 years ago.
The demand for Christians to convert to Islam was one of the declarations issued by ISIS and other Islamic groups hiding in the mountainous border between Syria and Lebanon.
Saad Hariri, a Saudi-backed Sunni Muslim politician and the son of assassinated Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, recently invited every Lebanese party to his office to sign a document confirming that Lebanon is an Arab state. Arab state equals Islamic laws, as with all members of the Arab League. Why is it so important to Hariri or to the Sunni and Islamic world to include Lebanon as an Arab state and cancel its current name as a Lebanese state only?
And why do the Arab states, including the Palestinian Authority (PA), refuse to recognize Israel, with its 80% Jewish majority, as Jewish state, while at the same time trying to impose the definition of an Arab state on Lebanon, whose population is 35% non-Arab Christians?
There are approximately one million Syriac Maronites left in Lebanon, as well as another 700,000 Christians belonging to other churches. In addition, more than eight million Syriac Maronites live in the diaspora. These eight million Christians fled over the centuries because of persecution by Muslims, often conquerors of the Christian homeland. Lebanon was never a strictly Arab or Muslim. But that is the step that Saad Hariri, as a milder face of the expansionist ISIS ideology, would have us take -- under the guise of a modern, moderate, Sunni secular front.
Saad Hariri, a Saudi-backed Sunni Muslim politician in Lebanon, recently invited every Lebanese party to his office to sign a document confirming that Lebanon is an Arab state. Pictured above: Saad Hariri (right) with the late Saudi King Abdullah (left) in 2014.
Hariri's request revels what the Islamic world is planning for Lebanon, Israel and eventually Europe and the United States. World powers need to protect Christian, Jewish and other minorities in Middle East. Both Lebanon and Israel must remain homelands for persecuted minorities in Middle East -- a Christian homeland in Lebanon and a Jewish homeland in Israel -- connected to each other geographically, assisting each other economically, and perhaps soon with a peace agreement that could form a peaceful bridge in culture and human rights between the West and the East.
Bashir Gemayel, the great Christian Maronite Lebanese leader who was assassinated after being elected president in 1982, warned the West during Lebanese Civil War that if the Islamic forces fighting against Christians win, they would continue to the Western World, as they are, in fact, doing at present.
This agreement for an Arab Lebanese state being requested by the Sunni leadership is clearly intended to turn Lebanon into yet another officially Arab Muslim state. It aims to negate the rights of the original people in the land, just as the original Christian Copts of Egypt have been overrun, and the Aramaic Syriac Christians of Iraq have been overrun. In Lebanon, the original people of the land are the Aramaic-Phoenician Christians -- especially the Maronites -- who still preserve Syriac (the language Jesus spoke) as their sacred language. A full 95% of Lebanese villages are still called by Syriac Aramaic names. Islam and the Arabic language came to Lebanon late from Arabian Peninsula, after the seventh century.
Hariri's wished-for step might also be supported by the Shiite Muslim party of Hizballah: both the Sunnis and the Shiites are Islamic. The next step will be to ask that the constitution of Lebanon be changed so that the land of the cedars is ruled by Sharia law, as with many other Islamic states, including the Palestinian Authority. Article 4 in the constitution of the future Palestinian state clearly notes: "The principles of Islamic Sharia shall be the main source of legislation."
Implementing Islamic Sharia law means having Muslim sovereignty and control over the Aramaic Christian community.
If this Islamic ideology, implemented by so many countries, is not racism, then what is racism?
Why does the free world, including the churches and secular Western leaders, keep silent and demonize only Jewish Israel for protecting itself from the same threat and ideology?
"Speak the truth and the truth will set you free." The Christians of Lebanon and entire Middle East can save their existence only by adopting this sacred sentence.
Shadi Khalloul, Chairman of the Aramaic Christian Association in Israel, is a representative of Israel's Arabic-speaking Christians and a candidate for parliament in Israel.