Lebanon’s ruling party on Monday issued a call to save the Christian communities of the Middle East.
Ahmad Hariri, secretary-general of the Lebanese Future Movement, said he was “extremely worried about the repercussions of the Christian emigration from some Middle East countries.”
Speaking at a press conference marking the closure of the Future
Movement’s founding congress in Beirut, the key political figure added
that “nurturing the Christian presence [in the region] was an Arab and
Islamic responsibility as much as it is a Christian one.”
The rare comments by a Muslim leader on the Levant’s Christian community
came amid concerns over the growing Shi’ite influence in Lebanon.
Since parliamentary elections in June 2009, the Future Movement, led by
Prime Minister Sa’ad Hariri, has held the majority in parliament and
rules in a coalition led by the pro-Western March 14 Alliance.
"Demographics are always linked to politics in Lebanon,” said Prof.
Eugene Sensenig-Dabbous, chairman of the Political Science department at
Notre Dame University of Lebanon. “Sunnis in Lebanon, as well as the
Druse and Christian populations are worried about the rise of the
Shi’ite population. Christians will never again constitute a majority in
Lebanon, but they are still vying for power. Hariri’s main partners in
the March 14 Alliance are Christians, and they see themselves under
threat by the mounting Shi’ite power in the country.”
Sensenig-Dabous said out that since the end of the civil war in 1990
emigration from Lebanon was equally comprised of all groups, with
Christians not representing a particular majority.
“There is, however, a longer history of Christian flight from Lebanon, dating back to the early 19th century,” he said.
This means the bulk of Lebanese diaspora pushing the issue is Christian.”
The exact breakdown of religious groups in Lebanon is unknown since a census hasn’t been held for more than 70 years.
What is clear is that the Christians have lost their majority due to decades of emigration and the high birthrate of Muslims.