Crux reports from Lebanon-Syria border, where Western ideals clash with deadly local realities

GetReligion | 10/18/2017 | Ira Rifkin
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As part of the series, Crux editor John L. Allen, Jr., in a piece labeled analysis, wrote that what seems apparent about Assad to most of us in the West holds little sway for Christians living in Lebanon and Syrian. His piece ran under the following headline: “Meeting Middle East Christians is where Western stereotypes go to die.”

For most Western nations, it’s a foreign policy a priori that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad is a bad actor, a thug and a bully who’s gassed his own people, suppressed dissent, and cozied up to Iran and Russia to preserve his grip on power.

Principle - Syria - Country - Assad - Nations

The cardinal principle of much Western thinking about Syria, therefore, is that whatever future the country may have, it can’t involve Assad, and Western nations won’t get fully behind Syria until he’s gone.

That’s not at all, however, the thinking of most Christians here, who don’t see Assad as the alternative to a thriving democracy. Instead, they see him as the alternative to chaos, meaning a takeover by ISIS or some other form of Islamic extremism. In that equation, Assad looms, by some order of magnitude, as the lesser of two evils.

Antoun - Fadel - Instance - Resident - Catholic

Antoun Fadel, for instance, is a lifelong resident of the Catholic village of El-Kaa, located in northern Lebanon near the border with Syria. He’s under no illusions about the benevolence of the Assad dynasty, since his village was where Syrian forces under Bashar’s father, Hafez al-Assad, poured into the country in 1976, triggering an occupation that didn’t end until 2005.

Yet Fadel said he’s got lots of Christian friends in Syria, and talks with them on a regular basis, in addition to the Syrian Christian refugees he’s come to know - almost 1,500 of them, in a village whose population before was just 2,500.

I asked him, if there were a completely free...
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