Sfeir paints a grim picture for Christians in Lebanon, ME


During an interview with CNN on January 5th , Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir, Lebanon’s top Christian spiritual leader said that all the Lebanese people are worried and not only the Christian Lebanese.

Sfeir voiced hope that that Lebanese situation will improve , but described the situation of the Christians in the Middle east as tragic and specially in Iraq.

Sfeir told CNN that the situation for Christians in Lebanon has completely changed because in the past, they represented the majority of the population and occupied a special position in Lebanon, but demographics have since changed.

He said Christian families are satisfied with three to four children, while Muslim families could have 10 to 15 children.

“This is why Muslims have now greatly outnumbered the Christians, especially since Christians and some Muslims have emigrated,” the patriarch said.

Asked whether he believes Lebanon would ever have president who is not Christian, Sfeir replied: “I don’t know, maybe if matters developed further and the Christians became a minority.”

He added that this issue is up to the Lebanese themselves and maybe, if the Muslims continue to outnumber the Christians in Lebanon, some new demands may be raised for such a change.

Addressing Islamist fundamentalism , he said that this is perhaps due to injustice in some societies but stressed that this is not the real Islam, and concluded the interview by stating : “Our message is for the people to cooperate with each other and seek peace, not war.”

Tensions in Lebanon have been simmering for months as it has become increasingly apparent the United Nations Special Tribunal for Lebanon STL) is leaning toward charging Hezbollah , the Shiite Muslim group with killing Mr. Hariri on Valentine’s Day 2005.

The massive, 1,000 kilogram, car bomb that killed Mr. Hariri as he traveled along Beirut’s fashionable seaside Corniche, left a crater 10 meters deep, knocked down several buildings and killed 21 other people, in addition to killing the billionaire tycoon who had rebuilt war-shattered Beirut.

Lebanese politicians fear any indictment of Hezbollah members for the killing could lead to a situation where the group might militarily seize large parts of Lebanon, just it they did in May 2008, when it briefly grabbed control of the western part of Beirut and tried, but failed, to occupy the Druze stronghold of Mt. Lebanon.

For months now, rumors have hinted UN investigators have uncovered evidence a Hezbollah hit-squad carried out the killing.

Hezbollah’s leaders have denied the charge.

Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also warned all Lebanese last November not to assist UN investigators, saying to do so would be tantamount to an attack on his movement.

Nasrallah vowed to “cut off the hand” of anyone who tried to arrest a Hezbollah fighter.