Lebanon, Middle East
Political Leader: Prime Minister Fouad Siniora
Religions: Islam 59.8%, Christianity 31.9%, Druze 7%, Other 1.3%
Persecution Ranking: Not Ranked
Number of Terrorist Groups: 54
Acts of Terrorism: 674; Casualties: 1,281
Percent of Corruption: 64%
% of People in Poverty: 28%
Lebanon, officially the Lebanese Republic, is a small, largely mountainous country in the Middle East, located at the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Sea. It is bordered by Syria to the north and east, and Israel to the south.
The Lebanese government’s Internal Security Forces has created a special unit to combat terrorism, and established branches of this unit to preempt terrorist activity in northern and central Lebanon. Even with these steps, there are many concerns about Lebanon’s ability to combat terrorism. Hizballah still remains the most prominent terrorist group in Lebanon. It has strong influence among Lebanon’s Shia community, which comprises about one-third of Lebanon’s population. The Lebanese government still recognizes Hizballah as a legitimate “resistance group” and political party. Hizballah maintains offices in Beirut and elsewhere in the country, has official liaison officers to the security services, is represented by elected deputies in parliament, and until recently had one minister in the cabinet. The unstable political situation in Lebanon also contributed to enabling suspected foreign terrorist organizations such as Al Qaeda and Fatah-Islam to infiltrate Lebanon and set up operational cells within the Palestinian refugee camps. Some of these groups, such as Al Qaeda affiliate Asbat al-Ansar, have been able to find safe haven within the camps to support their actions.
Although Syria withdrew its military forces from Lebanon in April 2005, it still maintained a covert intelligence presence. The Lebanese government accused Syria of continuing to support and facilitate arms smuggling to Hizballah and Palestinian terrorist groups.
Muslims comprise 59.8% of Lebanon’s population, while Christians make up 31.9%. The constitution provides for freedom of religion and the freedom to practice all religious rites provided that the public order is not disturbed.
Challenges for Christians:
On February 13, 2007, there was a bomb attack on two buses in the town of Ain Alaq, a Christian area north of Beirut. The attack killed three and injured 20. Leaders of all religious denominations condemned the bombing. It was presumed that the act of violence was intended to provoke sectarian tensions. A permanent search warrant remained in effect for the 2002 killing of an American citizen missionary affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Evangelical Alliance in Sidon, although the case was officially closed in April 2004. Investigations at the time of the killing suggested that Sunni extremists, possibly operating from the nearby Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, were responsible.
- Pray that the terrorist groups Hizballah, Al Qaeda and Fatah-Islam will be thrown into confusion, and will not be able to regroup, recruit, or have the capacity to be disruptive. Pray that the demonic forces that are using terrorists groups Hizballah, Al Qaeda and Fatah-Islam like puppets will be toppled, and that the people will be set free to worship the Lord. Pray that their leaders will experience conversion to Christianity. (1 Timothy 2:1–4)
- Pray that Hizballah, who model themselves on the Iranian Islamic revolution, will loose the support of the Lebanese population, through their continued violence.
- Pray that the Lebanese would not be manipulated by anti-Israeli foreign powers.
- Cross border fire between Hizballah and Israel has been ongoing. The sudden escalation of conflict in July 2006 led to bombing raids on Beirut, civilian casualties and a mass exodus of foreigners and refugees. Pray for a miracle of peace in the Israeli-Lebanese conflict.
- Pray against increased antipathy for Israeli’s and for Christians to model a “different way.”
- Between 1975 and 1991, Lebanon had a civil war. Yet since peace resumed, Lebanon has made good progress on reconciliation and rebuilding political institutions. Thank God for the eventual ending of the civil war. Pray that again peace would resume.
- Thank God that Lebanon is still the only land in the Middle East where people are free to decide to change their religion. Pray that this incredible freedom would be maintained.
- Pray for healing of the deep hurts in communities, families and individuals and a willingness to forgive those who caused suffering.
- Because there is more religious freedom, Lebanon is an important center for Christian ministries across the Middle East. Pray for Christians who are working in Christian schools and orphanages. Pray that the lives of the children there would be changed by Jesus.
Sources: 24-7 Prayer, Operation World, Wikipedia, Country Reports on Terrorism 2006, International Religious Freedom Report 2007, Open Doors, The World Factbook