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Christians in Lebanon fret despite privileged role

10/7/2010 Lebanon (Reuters) – After a panicky mass flight from his Christian village, Sami Abi Daher watched from across the valley as Syrian-backed Druze fighters burned and looted it.

That was back in 1983 when battles forced tens of thousands of Christians from their homes in the Aley and Shouf hills near Beirut in a bloody postscript to Israel’s 1982 invasion.

Abi Daher, a former Christian militiaman, has never returned to live in his village, Rishmaya, instead working and bringing up his three children in a Christian district of Beirut.

Sectarian hatreds certainly fueled Lebanon’s civil war, but any threat to Christians was rooted more in the country’s tangled politics than in religion, according to Abi Daher.

Now a jovial 54-year-old hairdresser, he still harbors grievances — against the Christian leaders he blames for the disaster that reconciliation efforts have yet to erase in full.

“I’ll tell you something. If you don’t hurt the Druze, they won’t hurt you,” he says, accusing former Christian warlords and politicians of responsibility for the rout in the mountains.

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