There’s a saying that those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it. Unfortunately, many of us are not as informed as we’d like to be, and we often lack knowledge of what goes on in other countries. Our news media usually focuses on where we live, and is primarily concerned with what affects us directly. Seeing what is happening elsewhere, however, can help us make better decisions. We can learn from the mistakes of others.
These days, debates about migrants, refugees, and the wisdom of whether western countries should take in large numbers of immigrants from Islamic countries can get heated. It’s a politically charged issue, one that often results in someone shouting “racist” or “xenophobe” at anyone who shows caution.
I would like to share this first hand testimony of Brigitte Gabriel, a woman born in Lebanon in 1964. Brigitte is an author, journalist, speaker, and political activist. You may have seen her on the news, since she is often called on by the media for commentary. As a child, however, Brigitte lived in an 8-by-10-foot bomb shelter with barely enough to eat, fearing for her life.
Brigitte’s birth country Lebanon used to be much like western society. In a 2008 interview with television host Sid Roth, Brigitte explained what life was like there.
“Lebanon used to be known as Paris of the Middle East, and the banking capital of the Middle East. Many people don’t realize today that Lebanon used to be the only majority Christian country in the Middle East, ” Brigitte said. “We were open-minded. We were fair. We were tolerant, multi-cultural. We prided ourselves on our multiculturalism. We had an open border policy. We welcomed everyone into our country because we wanted to share with them the westernization which we had created in the heart of the Middle East.”
Brigitte said education was important to the Lebanese people. “We had built the best universities in the Arabic world,” she told Sid Roth. “Muslims used to send their children from the Arabic world to come to our universities to study.”
This all changed when Lebanon received an influx of Palestinians after Yasser Arafat tried to overthrow the king and establish a base to fight Israel. The incoming Muslims from Palestine, combined with the Muslims already in Lebanon, put the Lebanese Christians in the minority.
“We Lebanon … were the only Christian country in the Middle East, the only country to accept the third wave of Palestinian refugees into the country,” Brigitte said. “They were majority Muslim [and] they put their heads together with the Muslims already in Lebanon, and declared Holy War on the Christians.”
At this point, interviewer Sid Roth stopped Brigitte to ask why the Muslims would do such a thing. Christians “follow the teachings of Jesus to love people,” Sid said. “The Christians weren’t causing them a problem, Why war on the Christians?”
“The Christians weren’t causing them a problem,” Brigitte agreed. “We Christians are taught to give, to love, to treat our neighbor the way we want to be treated, and this is how Lebanon operated as a democratic, multi Judeo-Christian society. What happened was Islam is an intolerant religion, so when you have intolerant people coming into a society that shows them tolerance … we allowed intolerance to take us over.”
Brigitte continued: “We projected our standards, our Judeo-Christian standards of love, acceptance, tolerance, respect, multiculturalism, and diversity onto people who did not value the same values we did; and they used our democracy, our open-mindedness, our fairness, our tolerance against us to destroy democracy.”
When Brigitte was 10, her home was bombed, and she and her family hid in an underground bomb shelter for seven years as Muslims hunted and killed Christians in unimaginably cruel ways. At times, parents were forced to murder their own children.
“But wait a second,” Roth said. “I know as a fact that there are Muslims who are good people … so we’re talking about just a fringe group?”
“There are millions of wonderful souls who do not want to kill anybody, who want to live their lives just like you and me,” Brigitte said. “Those are the wonderful people that we are not talking about.”
Brigitte then clarified that she meant devout Muslims who were “following their religion by the word, and following in the footsteps of the prophet Mohammed.”
Here Brigitte tells what happened after Muslims became the majority in her country.
For more info on Brigitte Gabriel, visit her website Act For America.
Photo Credit: Zaytunay Bay, Beirut by abdallahh