Saturday, August 25, 2012

Syria Christian refugees in Lebanon fear Islamist rebels

AHLE, Lebanon — For most of the refugees streaming across the border into Lebanon, Syrian President Bashar Assad is to blame for the violence back home and the rebel effort to oust him is laudable. For the traumatized Christians among them, it's often the opposite.

The rebellion, led by Syria's Sunni Muslim majority, has stirred profound concern among Christians, who make up about 10% of Syria's population. Some say they detect an increasingly radicalized Islamist strain among the rebels that makes them fear for their future.

Although many young Christians sympathize with the rebellion, most Christians are believed to still support the embattled government, viewing it as a guarantor of minority rights, even as it represses free speech and crushes any form of political opposition.

Among those who have fled into neighboring Lebanon are Christians from the town of Qusair, just across the border in war-ravaged Homs province. They say they were tired of threats and public taunts of being "unbelievers" and "dogs of Assad."

They recount being forced to attend rallies against Assad, an adherent of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Read More