Despite threats of ISIS advance, Christians in Lebanon deck up their Christmas trees, attend Church services celebrating the festive season.
Christians in Lebanon’s Haret Hreik are adamant to yield to the fear that ISIS may advance along with several threats at national level. Christmas trees have been installed in the last few weeks around the majority-Shiite neighbourhood and its churches. Haret Hreik was once a predominantly a Christian neighbourhood. However as a result of the Civil War the demographics changed notably.
“We will continue to celebrate and our bells will keep ringing in the East,” said Ziad Waked, the Christian mayor of Haret Hreik.
Many of the area’s Christians had left Lebanon or shifted to other Christian neighbourhoods, even though some of them still visit the local churches on Sundays and religious festivals, for instance Christmas.
The outlook of this Christian community is different altogether, amid growing threats to Christians who were forced to flee their homes in Iraq and Syria with the advance of terror group ISIS. Christians in Lebanon have had to self-arm in order to protect their land as they faced incursions by ISIS militants. Nevertheless, local Christians are not willing to surrender, showing determination to remain in the land they have long been part inhabited.
Father Issam Ibrahim priest of St. Joseph Church in Haret Hreik said, “Fear is not present.” “Every festival is an opportunity for us to declare that our God is eternal, and that our God is with us. If your God is with you, are you going to fear a mere human?” he added. Still, he called upon all the Lebanese Christians to stay united.