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Christians marginalized in Lebanon crisis

ICC Note

The recent upheaval in Lebanon has died down. But it clearly showed the military might of Hezbollah. It also showed how much Christians in Lebanon are marginalized.

05/15/2008 Lebanon (Reuters) – At an upmarket jeweller’s in east Beirut ‘s Ashrafieh district, wealthy Lebanese Christians shop for gold and diamonds, far removed from the upheaval that has sidelined their once-dominant community.

Last week’s fighting, in which at least 81 people were killed, pitted the opposition Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah against pro-government Sunni Muslim and Druze factions. But no major Christian group took part in the fighting or played a role in ending the violence.

Unlike the rest of the Arab World, Christians have traditionally been leading players in Lebanon . At an estimated one-third of the population, they far outweigh the proportion of Christians in any other Arab country.

But the Christians became divided over loyalties to rival leaders, leaving them marginalized during the latest crisis. Lebanese political scientist As’ad Abu Khalil said the community now had “no significant role” in Lebanese politics.

“If I was younger I would emigrate myself. Hezbollah has the numerical superiority and the Christians are too divided. But the Christians can still advance by not making an enemy of the Shi’ites,” said Aoun, who owns a restaurant in Ashrafieh.

” Lebanon is the Gate of the East because of its Christians, but it is time to realize Shi’ite ascendancy. They have the numerical superiority,” said Francois Bassil, owner of Le Chef restaurant.

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