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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 07:40 GMT
Lebanese Christians: Janine Maalouf
I grew up Catholic in a pure Christian area. My only interaction with Muslims came at university.

MEET THE PANEL
Janine Maalouf
Name: Janine Maalouf
Age: 22
Lives: Jouni, Lebanon
Works: Student
There were awkward moments. Some would look at me in a weird way when I said I was not Muslim.

I have Christian friends who do not integrate with Muslims and who want pure Christian communities, but I was not raised on these ideas.

I have never been discriminated against - I have heard people say that Christians do not have clean food and that people do not want to buy from a Christian shop but those are just incidents.

YOUNG LEBANESE CHRISTIANS
Now, as the number of Christians decreases, people do not accept other faiths as they did before.

I think it has got more like this since the death of [former Lebanese Prime Minister] Rafik Hariri.

After the elections, Christians began to fear more and more for their own existence and to fear the power of Muslims.

I feel it is very marked in Lebanon, more than other countries. In the Middle East, Christians are a small minority whereas in Lebanon it was 50-50, but not anymore.

Christians feel they are losing their presence and authority.

Our services are in Arabic and Syriac. The priest says the words when he takes the bread and turns it into the body of Christ in Syriac.

LEBANON'S CHRISTIANS
Total population: 4m
Estimated Christians: 1.35m-1,6m
% Christian: 34-41%
Main churches: Maronite, Greek Orthodox
Issues: Political change
Now there are less words in Syriac because none of the priests speak it any more.

Also, the war legacy is still a presence in people's minds. Parents teach children the dislike of other religions.

I hope that Christians will unite and that people realise the importance of their presence.

Being Catholic is a great part of life but after a while you learn to differentiate faith from religion.

Faith is the same in all religions, it is just the way you practise it that is different.





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