13 WHO REMEMBERS LEBANON? Popoli – 12/1993 The agreement between Israel and the Palestinians has opened up new pro- spects for peace in the Middle East, but it seems to ignore Lebanon, which is living its drama "protected" by the "Syrian pax". The emigration of Arab-Christians risks compromising the balance and peaceful coexistence between different religious groups that has always characterized the country. Giuseppe Samir Eid is the author of the volume "Christian Arabs and Mu- slim Arabs" (NED, Milan, 1991) and colla- borator of the CADR, the Ambrosian Do- cumentation Centre for Religions in Milan. Lebanon, "loubnan", a land of welcome, has always been the refuge of persecu- ted communities. Its mountains, already known in ancient times for their precious forests, proved to be a well-kept refuge for ethnic and religious minorities from the years immediately following the Arab conquest of Syria. In the 20th century they welcomed refugees of the most di- verse religious faiths from the surroun- ding regions. Land of fraternal coexistence Lebanon is a republic surrounded by totalitarian states with massive military expenditure (Syria, Iraq and Israel). It is also the only Arab country where there is freedom of expression and worship, without discrimination of any kind for its citizens. It is indicated as a model of co- existence between Christians, Jews and Muslims for the spirit of welcome shown to each person. In the panorama of the Arab world with laws inspired by those of Islam, Lebanon finds itself in a different position; in fact, according to the constitution, the head of state must be a Christian and, at least for- mally, finds himself in a position of balance of power with his Muslim peers in the mee- tings between the Arab heads of state. Lebanon is notoriously considered the first country where any person can take refuge in the event of religious, political or other discrimination. About 350,000 Egyptian Christians and Muslims, for example, emigrated from Egypt under the rule of Nasser and other neighbo- ring states under a dictatorial regime, focusing on Lebanon as a refuge or point of reference. It is estimated that even 300,000 Palestinians driven from Jordan and northern Israel have found refuge in Lebanon; mostly Muslims and have upset the sectarian balance of power in