Lebanon: Protestant Christians Wounded in Car Bomb Blast

Beirut, Lebanon | 16.02.2005 | APD | International

Among the dozens injured in a February 14 car bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri was also a Protestant Politician. Basil Fleihan, the only Protestant deputy in the Lebanese Parliament has been seriously wounded in this car bomb attack, according to the European Baptist Federation (EBF). Basil Fleihan, former minister for economic affairs, was flown out for medical treatment, according to the director of the Baptist Lebanese Society for Schools and Social Development, Nabil Costa.

In a letter to the EBF, Costa asks for intercession for Fleihan and the Lebanon, which is mourning of Hariri's death. He was one of the main forces behind the postwar reconstruction of the country.

Also injured was Dr. Armond Manassian and his wife, Pamela, both Adventist Christians. They were dining in a ground floor restaurant of the Phonecian Hotel in Beirut when the blast hit. The two, former staff members at Middle East University, where Dr. Manassian still taught part time, suffered numerous facial cuts and other injuries, but no damage to their eyes. They were treated and released from a local hospital that evening.

After the bomb blast, which killed at least ten persons and wounded one hundred, security forces have been put on high alert. A suspect has reportedly been arrested. He is said to be in contact with Muslim extremists. A little known Islamic group has claimed responsibility for the assassination on the Internet.

The EBF held its council meeting in Beirut last fall. Baptist representatives also met for talks with Hariri and Fleihan. EBF represents 51 Baptist Unions with more than 700,000 members in Europe and the Near East.

Approximately 60 percent of the 4.4 million Lebanese citizens are Muslims and 40 percent mainly Catholic and Orthodox Christians. Protestants account for less than one percent of the population. The Seventh-day Adventist East Mediterranean Field covering Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria has 6 churches with more than 540 members. The Baptist Union in Lebanon has 27 local churches with 2,000 members.

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