INTRODUCTION: On the second anniversary of the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war, Easter services have been observed at churches throughout the country.
INTRODUCTION: On the second anniversary of the outbreak of the Lebanese civil war, Easter services have been observed at churches throughout the country. The nation has a large Christian population, and it was essentially the differences between them and the Moslem community which led to the 19-month-long war which ended last October.
SYNOPSIS: One Easter service was held at Saint Mary's church, Hamra, in the western area of Beirut. In this predominantly Moslem section of the capital, Christians were able to practise their faith almost throughout the civil war troubles.
Although there has been no census to support it, it's generally accepted that Muslims now outnumber the Christians in Lebanon. Of all the regions in the Middle East, the country has probably the most number of various religious sects and communities in a small area. The largest single community is the Maronites, a sect of the Roman Church. The Maronites originally came from the old territory of Mount Lebanon, immediately east of Beirut. In all, there are more than 15 main religious sects in the country.
But while Easter services were being observed in Beirut, Christian strongholds in the south were being threatened. Palestinians and their left-wing Moslem allies have been trying to consolidate positions in the region to continue operations against Israel on the southern border.
The leader of the Falangists, Mr. Pierre Gemayel, lit candles for a service in eastern Beirut. Although the entry of a Syrian-dominated peace keeping force has ended the civil war in most of the country, fighting is increasing in the south. The Syrians backed the right-wing in the later stages of the civil war, but are now understood to be embarrassed by increasingly close links between the right and Israel.