Lebanon’s Christian community woke up Wednesday to the concerning news that they were going to be beheaded.
The warning came from an unlikely source: Jeb Bush, a Republican candidate for the President of the United States.
During the fourth Republican debate, in a call for greater US leadership in the Middle East, Bush declared: “If you’re a Christian, increasingly in Lebanon or Iraq or Syria, you’re gonna be beheaded.”
Though there have been well-known instances of beheadings in the latter two countries, the statement might come as a surprise for Lebanon’s 1.7 million Christians (this is a rough estimate — no census has been conducted since 1932).
In short, Lebanese Christians are far from oppressed. They practice their faith in thousands of churches across the country and are prominent in Lebanon’s culture and business communities.
A powersharing agreement reached at the end of the country’s civil war ensures that Christians take up half the seats in the country’s parliament — a percentage that outweighs their actual population.
That is not to say Christians here have no worries at all. Their numbers as a percentage have been in decline for many years, and some in the community are concerned about the effect this is having on Lebanon’s multisectarian makeup. There have been major two bomb attacks in the past year, the latest on Thursday in a largely Shia neighborhood of Beirut.
The vast majority of Lebanon's problems — corruption, poverty, government gridlock and a garbage crisis, to name a few — impact Christians and Muslims alike.
So Lebanon's Christians have concerns, like everyone else. But beheadings? Not here.