Though mainstream media is relatively silent when it comes to the situation in the Middle East, a very real threat still looms overseas, one that continues to affect millions of lives.
The Christian advocacy group In Defense of Christians (IDC) is calling on the citizens of America to get in touch with their senators and urge them to cosponsor House Resolution 252, which would establish safe zones for refugees fleeing from the civil war in Syria and support the stability of Lebanon, which is hosting more refugees proportionally than any country in the world, according to a statement by IDC.
In an email sent out following a visit to the White House May 6, pastor of St. Rafka Maronite Catholic Parish and secretary general for the IDC Religious Advisory Board, Father Andre Mahanna, asked Colorado citizens to lead the charge in supporting H. Res 252.
“Let Colorado lead, in a non-partisan way, to stand for what is right and just, for what is merciful and hopeful,” Father Mahanna wrote. “Stand for Lebanon, the final resort in the Middle East and Africa for Christians and for religious freedom.”
Father Mahanna led a small group representing the Apostolic Union of the Clergy and Laity and the Apostolate of Our Lady of Hope to meet with and educate legislators about Christian persecution in the Middle East and the need for the respect of religious freedom.
Father Mahanna was also granted an audience with President Donald Trump, who that day signed an executive order in support of religious freedom. In his email, Father Mahanna touched on the upcoming meeting between President Trump and Pope Francis and shared that Pope Francis intends on speaking with the president about Lebanon and its crucial role in the Middle East.
“Lebanon, with all its dynamics of rich and unique religious structure, can help stop terrorism, religious violence, persecution and social injustices,” Father Mahanna wrote of the region, where he himself was born and raised.
The ongoing civil war in Syria has displaced millions of people from their homes, forcing them to seek refuge in nearby countries. Lebanon has received more than 1,500,000 refugees from Syria in the years the civil war has raged on, saving countless lives from certain death. The country is also home to the highest percentage of Christians in the Middle East, making it a “unique multi-confessional society and model of pluralism in the region,” IDC’s statement said.
Due to the large influx of refugees Lebanon is receiving from Syria, the country “risks descending into sectarian chaos … which would be to the detriment of U.S. interests in the Middle East,” IDC said.
“Ending the Syrian conflict, which has claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and displaced millions, should be a foreign policy priority for the United States, and the establishment of safe zones would be an important step in that direction. These safe zones would protect Syria’s vulnerable civilian populations, and prevent them from having to leave their countries and live as refugees.”