Church Called On to Stand Up Amidst Lebanon Protests

Today ends the third week of widespread protests in Lebanon. Issues vary, but most people want a complete overhaul of the government. Demonstrators blame current leaders for Lebanon’s economic failure and crumbling infrastructure.

Read our coverage of the situation here.

Although the movement is unifying all sectors of Lebanese society, its potential for harm troubles leaders like Nabil Costa. He’s the CEO of LSESD: the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development. “My concern is not directly [for] our ministries only; my concern is [for] our country,” Costa says.

“Lebanon is the only democracy in the region…the only country [where the Christian faith is not a minority]. This is rare in the Middle East and the MENA region – Middle East and North Africa.”

The Church’s role in Lebanon protests

As summarized here by Reuters, Lebanon’s situation has been a long time coming and there’s no easy fix. In September, officials declared a state of economic emergency; national debt surpasses GDP by $35 billion and banks recently imposed restrictions to keep money in the country.

Financial help from the World Bank hinges upon the formation of a new cabinet. However, as International Crisis Group analyst Heiko Wimmen observes here,

“If this mood prevails and protests continue at the current pace and scale, the country may be in for a prolonged period of unrest. No alternative political leadership or real opposition to the ruling parties exists… Attempts to restore order, for instance by deploying the army, may lead to another flare-up of violence.”

The question is how to balance Lebanon’s stability – a critical factor in the Middle East – with the voice and desire of Lebanese citizens.

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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Katey Hearth