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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 December 2005, 07:42 GMT
Lebanese Christians : Joseph Eid
I come from a religious Maronite family and it makes an impact coming from a conservative religious family here.

MEET THE PANEL
Joseph Eid
Name: Joseph Eid
Age: 29
Lives: Beirut, Lebanon
Works: Writer

If you speak out, people seem to think you have some sort of "aura". They see you as being more credible when you talk.

And yet, now, because of the West's influence, the younger generation consider us alien.

They call the priests and bishops "the black army", because they feel Christians are so powerful in Lebanon.

They are also turning to Western ideals, which is why there is a conflict between the conservatives and liberals.

Younger people are now also more politicised than religious. They talk about politics all the time.

YOUNG LEBANESE CHRISTIANS
You could say I'm a child of the Lebanese war. I was born when the civil war broke out.

I was raised on the idea that Christians have Muslim and Druze enemies.

I experienced the deportations to the mountains of Lebanon. We were forced to flee and our houses were destroyed.

When I came to Beirut I had my studies interrupted several times because of war.

I used to see the Christian militias training. At the time I had a great hate for Muslims. But when I got older it became different.

LEBANON'S CHRISTIANS
Total population: 4m
Estimated Christians: 1.35m-1.6m
% Christian: 34-41%
Main churches: Maronite, Greek Orthodox
Issues: Political change
At first I was on my guard, it took courage for me to visit my Muslim friends' houses. But soon we found we had preconceived images of each other.

After all, they had suffered just like us.

It is very important to be a Christian in Lebanon. We are like missionaries, we can bring a message of peace and love - the message of Christ.

We have been here for thousands of years as Maronites. We have endured torture, war and massacres, yet there is something beyond our will that makes us stick to our land here.





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