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Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb Lectures in Haigazian University
Beirut, 12/06/2006

Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb Lectures in Haigazian University
The Palestinian Christians: Immense Challenges and Endless Possibilities

On Thursday, June the 8th, 2006, the Cultural Hour at Haigazian University hosted the Director of the International Center of Bethlehem, Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb, to dwell on "The Present of the Palestinian Christians", and discuss their challenges, opportunities and threats facing this ever-diminishing, but quite potent community in Palestine.

Among the presence were, the President of the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, Rev. Dr. Salim Sahyouni, the Secretary General of the Christian ? Muslim Committee for Dialogue, Mr. Mohammad Sammak, the President of Haigazian University, Rev. Dr. Paul Haidostian, The President of the Near East School of Theology, Dr. Mary Mikhael, in addition to a large number of scholars and clergy.

In her welcoming speech, the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Arda Ekmekji, talked very briefly about Christian ethnicities in Palestine: "It is in fact tragic that in the ongoing polemic on Palestine, and in this eternal debate on whose land is the Holy Land, very often one tends to overlook a very important community: The Palestinian Christians, who in their turn could belong to various ethnic and diverse cultural groups: Arabs, Armenians, Copts, Syriacs, Abyssinians and even Franks", said Ekmekji.

Rev. Raheb started his lecture by providing facts and figures on the Palestinian Christians.
It's an urban society, concentrated mainly in the cities of Bethlehem, the West Bank region, and Jerusalem, the majority being orthodox, and catholics and evangelicals. Christian Palestinians are less than 2% of the total population of the country, yet they are a very active community. They possess 64 schools, 2 universities, and 2 colleges. They also provide 30% of the health service in Palestine.
Raheb presented the major challenges of this small community, which is the minority complex, and the fear of disappearing, the absence of law and order, the rise of the Islamic parties, the Israeli occupation and the system of segregation and racism.

A 20-minute moving documentary was shown during the lecture, featuring the city of Bethlehem, the construction of the dividing wall, and true stories and experiences of land confiscation and segregation.

Finally, Rev. Raheb concluded his speech, by calling to a living hope in conditions of despair, as the Palestinian cause is more explicitly presented today than any other day, the developmental projects of the churches are increasing, and the Palestinian Christians have a pivotal role to play in building a Christian identity in the Middle East.

Mira Yardemian
Public Relations Director
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