Muslim extremists destroy the body, western education destroys the soul
Interview with the leader of the Christian Orthodox Party of Lebanon - Rodrigue Khoury
What is the state of Christian people in the Middle East?
Christians in the Middle East suffer from constant fear because of bloodshed and war that is without an ending and any solution. This war is not like previous wars; it was started against all old basic ideas and beliefs. This is important for Christians and other powers in the region. Those who started the war want to devastate Christians, Druze, Alawites and all others, who don`t support them and all Muslim groups who have other points of view. Christians are trying to cooperate with all capable powers in the region: with different Muslim groups, like the Christian movement Amal does, with the government, and they should do it with Russia.
How do they perceive the involvement of Russia in the Syrian War?
This opinion is not only of Orthodox people, it`s not about religion, most people appreciate the entering of Russia into Syria. But of course there are pro-western people, who are oriented towards USA. Most of the Christians, orthodox Christians, greeted Russian entry, or better to say, Russian help. We have old ties with Russia, we are historically connected with Russians, our patriarchs write to each other. As Russia protected Christians during Ottoman rule from Turkish abuse, now Russia comes back to protect. You know, in that time only Russian protection saved us and our culture in the Middle East. We have great feelings for Russia, for its passion for justice and protection of orthodoxy here. Without this help we couldn`t exist.
What are the main dangers for Christian Orthodoxy in the Middle East?
We, orthodox people face several serious dangers. First are religious extremists, mostly taqfirists. I say Taqfiri, they are not Islamic at all. Extremists and terrorists – they are the first and most vivid danger. Second problem is a materialistic form of western education. Those schools that spread liberalism and careless thinking, ignoring religion. Atheistic schools that turn pupils away from religion, from the idea of a purpose, an aim of a human`s life. And that’s a danger for the existence of eastern orthodoxy – if Muslim extremists destroy the body, western education destroys the soul. Islamists ruin sites and kill people, but western, liberal ideology kills the spirit of eastern orthodoxy.
So-called jihad against Christians and orthodoxy is a great danger, Muslim extremists hate us biologically, they try to kill everything – physically, politically, destroying our cities and everything connected with our culture. They are wild and stupid. The second danger is liberal western education. Such materialistic and atheistic education undermines basics of religion, its routes. The first danger is vivid and devastates us physically. But the second poisons our souls. So orthodoxy faces such dangers but I guess these hardships are granted from above. The existence of orthodoxy depends on a solution to these two problems. The survival of our people and our spirit.
Does your party have strong influence in the region?
The Orthodox party doesn`t have strong influence in the region, politically or otherwise… The region is mostly Muslim, but different minorities, Druze, Alawites, Kurds, Assyrians and Armenians, fragment it. All of them have a small influence on the situation today and in the past. The Orthodox community is one of these minorities, but before we didn`t have any party or movement to defend our interests. At last we are ready now to do it, and we organize our movement to stand our ground. It maybe weak today, but we are sure, that it will gain strength in the future.
What’s your opinion on Israel’s role in the current Middle Eastern conflict?
Israel tries to stand away from the modern conflict in the Middle East and doesn`t take any side. They are interested in their own security, because they are alone against the entire Arab world. That`s why they are afraid of any success in our conflict or success of any Arab country. They support this bloodshed and saw the region tear apart because they prefer to weaken rivals and then fight them one by one. Moreover, inside Israel they distract people from internal problems. So they can mask anything, but my opinion is – never believe them.