Welcome to the first of my blog posts on my trip to Beirut to cover the story o Syrian Christian refugees; please stay tuned to this site for more information. I also made this page tells you other ways you can follow the story in addition to getting my random thoughts, snarky asides and food photos while I’m over in the Middle East.
I left Dallas on Thursday afternoon, flew through Frankfurt and then got into Beirut on Friday afternoon local time. I chose to go to Lebanon for this part of the project because it’s one of the main countries where refugees from Syria are fleeing to. From my research, it seemed to have a lot of Western influence, including many people who speak English. (I speak no Arabic.)
Even before I got to Lebanon, I got some confirmation of my suspicion that the plight of Middle Eastern Christians may not be a big news story in the United States but it’s a real, major crisis and people connected to it in this part of the want to talk about it.
On the plane into Beirut, I sat next to a man named Fadi, a Lebanese native and Maronite Christian who was now living in France. His father had passed away in Lebanon a few months ago and now the family was getting together for a memorial.
We talked about the strikes by the Syrian rebels agains the town of Maaloula that I’ve written about for Breitbart News. I explained how most Americans weren’t really paying much attention to what was going on in Syria until President Barack Obama began to talk about attacking it recently. Fadi asked me:
“The Christians in the United States, do they care about what’s happening to the Christians here?”
Well, that’s the question for Americans, isn’t it? That’s the question for you, really.
So far, the media has decided you don’t care. The Obama administration appears to pinned their foreign policy public approval hopes in the Middle East on the notion that Americans will either not notice or not care what’s been happening to Christians here.
Fadi grew up in Lebanon during the civil war there. He said for many Lebanese, it created a sense of having no stable future. He felt the current Syrian strife was going to have the same effect.
Then Fadi introduced me to a woman in the seat in front of us who was Syrian. He told her what I was working on and she gave me her brother’s phone number, saying that he spoke better English than she did.
People want to talk about what’s going on with Christians here.
I landed at Beirut airport in the afternoon and coming off the plane, it was virtual indistinguishable from every American airport; big photos and ads for banks and watches.
I had no problems going through the Visa process. When I said I was American, I was waved through customs without even a look.
I was very tired after the flight. I checked into the apartment I’m renting a room in, got a bite to eat, a mobile phone for use while I’m in Beirut and went to bed.