Conditions of Christians in the Bekaa Valley from 1996 [LBN29113.E]

According to a representative of the Middle East Council of Churches in Limassol, Cyprus, the conditions under which Christians are living in the Bekaa Valley do not differ substantially from those under which Christians are living in Lebanon in general. The representative, who has recently spoken to the Greek Catholic (Melkite, Melchite) bishop of Baalbek and the Greek Orthodox bishop of Zahle, is not aware of any instances of Christians being harassed or otherwise mistreated on religious or communal grounds by non-Christians in the past two years. The representative stated that a Muslim who has converted to Christianity could face reprisals from his or her family, but that is not a phenomenon unique to the Bekaa or to Lebanon. The representative added that it should be noted that the Bekaa Valley is effectively divided into two jurisdictions, because the southernmost part of the valley is under de facto Israeli occupation.

A 27 April 1996 article in the Baltimore Sun quoted the Greek Catholic Archbishop of Baalbek, Cyrille Salim Bustros, to the effect that because of the presence of armed Hizbullah (Hizbollah, Hezbollah) operatives in Baalbek the area was suffering from economic decline and general tension. However, the Archbishop added that he had good relations with Hizbullah, and that "[w]hen I talk to them, I stress our commitment to liberate Lebanon from Israel. We have a common enemy." The article noted that in 1982 Archbishop Bustros' predecessor and two priests were kidnapped by Hizbullah's predecessor, Islamic Resistance, but that they were released after five days.

According to an article in the 11 July 1997 issue of Middle East International, a political protest movement led by a former secretary-general of Hizbullah, Subhi Tufayli, has received some support from Christians in the Bekaa. Tufayli, who was removed as secretary-general of Hizbullah in 1990 "because he was too extremist," led a movement known as the "Hunger Revolution" in protest against poverty in the Bekaa, and alleged Lebanese government corruption (9). In a speech he gave at a protest rally in Baalbek on 4 July 1997, Tufayli acknowledged a delegation of supporters from the Greek Catholic town of Zahla, near Baalbek (ibid.). The article added that Tufayli's movement had also received support from the National Liberal Party, headed by Dory Chamoun, a Maronite.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


The Baltimore Sun. 27 April 1996. Doug Struck. "Tourists Skirt Hezbollah 'Capital.' " (Global NewsBank)

Middle East Council of Churches, Limassol, Cyprus. 14 April 1998. Telephone interview with a representative.

Middle East International [London]. 11 July 1997. No. 554. Gilles Trendle. "Tufayli's Revolt."