Fr Samir Khalil SJ
Islam's growing influence in Lebanon is prompting even more of its Christians to emigrate, Beirut's Centre for Arab Christian Research and Documentation (CEDRAC) founder Jesuit Father Samir Khalil said.
A third of the country's Christian population has left since the beginning of a 1975-1990 civil war. Many leave because they feel their traditional influence in their country is weakening, while more crucial political positions are going to Muslims, Lebanon's The Daily Star reported.
"Christians used to make up 50 percent of the nation's population; now experts think the Christians are probably not exceeding 34 percent, which is worrying," said Fr Khalil, who teaches at Beirut's St Joseph University's CEDRAC department.
"The same is happening (all over) the Middle East, and this is certainly a very tragic situation, and it will have great consequences in the future."
Khalil said the power of the influential Christian minority to counterbalance a growing Islamisation was waning.
"Lebanon has always been a bastion of religious tolerance, but now it is moving toward the model of Islamisation seen in Iraq and Egypt."
Christians tempted to emigrate as Lebanon grows increasingly 'Islamized' (The Daily Star Lebanon)