Lebanese Christians arm themselves against possible Islamic State invasion

The flag of Lebanon's Free Patriotic Movement, which is arming itself against the Islamic State threat. Credit: Free Patriotic Movement.

(JNS.org) Christian militias have started to arm themselves for the first time in decades as Lebanese military leaders urge unity in the face of the jihadist threat. 

“ISIS is a cancerous tumor that surfaced at first in parts of Iraq and Syria and it’s still contained to a certain point and this can be removed only if we join our efforts via an international Arab alliance,” Lebanese Forces commander Samir Geagea said Sept. 6, the Daily Star reported. 

In the face of the threat posed by Islamic State, Christians from groups such as the Free Patriotic Movement political party are arming themselves for the first time since the bloody Lebanese Civil War ended in 1990, the Associated Press reported. 

Lebanon—which is the only Arab country with a Christian head of state, and where Christians make up 35-40 percent of the population—has been a popular destination for Christians fleeing from Iraq and Syria.

“We all know that if they come, they will slit our throats for no reason,” an armed villager from the Christian town of Qaa near the Syrian border told the Associated Press

In just the past week, several Islamic State messages have appeared on Christian churches in Tripoli, the Daily Star reported. 

“The Islamic State will break the cross,” a message painted on the wall of the Mar Elias Church in Tripoli read. 

Another message said, “We came to slaughter you, you worshippers of the cross.”

Islamic jihadists have terrorized several Christian villages in Syria, just over the Lebanese border. Last year, the ancient Christian village of Maaloula—where residents spoke Aramaic, the language of Jesus—was devastated by jihadists who targeted a number churches and homes while forcing the residents to flee. 

Posted on September 8, 2014 .