Report on the “Christianity in the MENA Region” Workshop

12th Rhodes Forum, September 27, 2014
By Fr. Boulos Wehbe, Moderator of the Workshop

The workshop was chaired by Fr. Boulos Wehbe, who opened it with an introductory address which outlined the historical path of Christianity since its inception and early spread by the apostles in the region. He stresseed on it being an Eastern religion which spread to the West but continued in the MENA region despite all the hardships it endured. Fr. Wehbe outlined the present state of the Christians in it and stressed on their feeling of being threatened and abandoned. He outlined the model of Lebanon as a viable model and catalyst for the Christian presence in the region.

Dr. George Dorlian outlined the 5 stages which Christians passed through in the MENA region and highlighted the reasons for the disintegration of the Christian presence and role in their communities and countries. And although Dr. Dorlian expressed a gloomy outlook regarding this presence where many of the regions hosting it are heading towards a 1-color configuration, he stressed resurrecting the model of Arabism which can encompass Muslims and Christians in 1 viable and equitable societal model.

Dr. Doumit Salameh gave an expose of the development of the Christian presence in the region since the coming of Jesus Christ and his dwelling in it, and also stressed on the Eastern nature of the Christianity, which was given to the people in the MENA region by the apostles. He outlined the contribution of the Christians in the area since before Islam until now, while stressing that this role declined in many countries where they are deprived of their basic rights. He outlined what is needed for the Christian survival there today, stressing on them having a land to belong to, and offered Lebanon as a model which also serves as the backbone of this presence.

Dr. Edward Alam stressed on Lebanon being a land of dialogue in the region because it is based on dialogue and balance. He outlined that Christianity is important for Lebanon and for the region to safeguard its diversity and unique nature being a culture which is the result of the contribution and interaction of Muslims and Christians, which is an issue voiced by most Muslims. Dr. Alam highlighted Lebanon as a model for all.

A very lively discussion followed, and included some voices which tried to portray Islam and as a religion of violence, and Islam and Muslims the enemy of Christianity and Christians, which was vehemently opposed by the speakers, moderator and most of the audience.

Father Boulos WEHBE
الأب بولس وهبه