Lebanese Christian Woman: Shine!bySamuelx©
Even as I sit through yet another "multiculturalism and tolerance meeting" in downtown Ottawa, watching the Mayor reach out to the Muslim community after yet another Arab guy got locked up for honorably killing a 'westernized' Arab woman, I can't help but wonder at the naïve and exceedingly tolerant mindset of westerners. They have no idea what life is like in North Africa and the Middle East for those who are "different" from the religiously mandated social norm. My name is Salome Al-Mansur. I was born in the City of Baalbek in the Republic of Lebanon. Where is Lebanon? In the Middle East, in case you have been living under a rock. One of those countries full of oil, religiously based political turmoil, and year-round sunny weather. Presently I live in Ottawa, the biggest town of the province of Ontario, Canada. Next to metropolitan Toronto of course. I recently became a naturalized citizen of this great country, and I feel that it's my duty as a citizen to inform you about trouble brewing in our midst.
At Carleton University, there are lots of Arab students, and us Lebanese form a sizeable group among them. I'm at the Sprott School of Business, where I'm earning my master's degree in business administration. I want to run a major corporation someday. I think I can do it. My mother, Fatima Al-Mansur, taught me that I could do anything. When you're a Lebanese Christian, life can be fraught with trouble. You learn to believe in yourself as you trudge through hardship. In the nation of Lebanon, tensions are growing between Christians and Muslims. At the dawn of the twentieth century, Christians formed the majority of Lebanese citizens. Yes, we were an Arab country with a predominantly Christian population. Arab Christians. How about that? So was Egypt, by the way. Now, Christians form around ten percent of the population of Egypt and Lebanese Christians form forty percent of the Republic of Lebanon's total population. We keep moving out because we fear a day when the Muslims will rise en masse and do to us what Nigerian Muslims are doing to Nigerian Christians in Northern Nigeria. We fear for our very lives, that's why we emigrate.
My father, Bilal Al-Mansur did everything he could to get us to Canada in order for us to have a better life. He was a policeman in our town of Baalbek, and got tired of watching the clashes between the faiths. Tired of always bearing abuse from the Lebanese Muslims, Lebanese Christians retaliated. Violence plagued our towns and cities. The Palestinians didn't make things easy for anyone with their general anger towards the world. And Lebanese Muslims embraced them wholeheartedly. That was the last straw for my father. He went to Canadian Embassy and sought refugee status for us. My mother and I went first, then my father came. We came to Canada in the summer of 1999.
When September 1999, I enrolled at Saint Guillaume Catholic School, and surprised the Canadian students because I was an Arab chick who didn't wear a hijab and I wore a cross everywhere I went. Canadians didn't know that there were millions of Christians living in the Middle East. In Iran, Pakistan, Lebanon, Egypt and elsewhere, Christians are found. We exist in significant numbers in those places, actually. And we are persecuted for our beliefs by the Arab world's Muslim majority. I bet you the Canadians might change their naively tolerant views toward everything Islamic if they knew these things. Just the opinion of an Arab Christian woman who's experienced persecution firsthand at the hands of the very people who are always shouting "Islamophobia" whenever someone in the Western world disagrees with them. Americans and Canadians need to band together with Australians, New Zealanders and other world powers before it's too late. Just my sincere opinion, ladies and gentlemen.
I love living in Canada. I really blossomed here. In Lebanon, I was shy and withdrawn. In Ontario, I grew into a five-foot-eleven, curvaceous yet fit, bronze-skinned and raven-haired beauty with light brown eyes. People say I look like a younger version of Hollywood's Jennifer Lopez. I always tell them that I am a Lebanese Christian woman, not a Latina. Presently, I am the President of the Arab Christians Association at Carleton University. We have one hundred and seventeen members in our little club. My friend David Mokhtar, an openly gay Lebanese Christian lad, started a group for Arab Christians at the University of Ottawa. The presidents of both schools supported our efforts. However, they were staunchly opposed by the Muslim Students Club, which saw any group that put Arab and Christian together as a threat. The protests by the Muslim Students Club drew the attention of non-Arab and non-Muslim students at both Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. For the first time ever, Canadian students got to see firsthand how narrow-minded and unwilling to compromise Muslims could be when dealing with Christians. Muslims in majority Christian countries have equal rights. Christians in majority Muslim countries fear for their lives. If you don't believe me, visit Egypt or Lebanon while wearing Christian symbols on your person. You might need Superman as a bodyguard just to stay alive for more than ten seconds. Yet Muslims in majority Christian countries are never legally persecuted for their beliefs. See the difference?
I could go on all day about the trials and tribulations of Christians in the Arab world, but men and women living in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe simply won't get it. Just like you can't understand the Matrix until you experience it. My advice to you people is to wake up and defend your countries, your secular governments, and your Christian faith before it's too late. I watched Christianity fall in Egypt, followed by the rights of women, gays and non-Muslims. I know my beloved homeland, the Republic of Lebanon, is most likely next. Oh, it won't happen tomorrow. We Christians are still forty percent of the Lebanese nation's total population. We were once ninety percent, only a century ago, believe it or not. There is hope for now, however. We still have Lebanese Christian men and Lebanese Christian women serving in vast numbers in the Lebanese National Army, the Lebanese Government and other positions of power in Lebanese society. The Lebanese Muslims can't get rid of us...yet. However, when our numbers dwindle like those of the Coptic Christians in Egypt, they'll come for us. It's inevitable. It's their way of doing things. They do NOT negotiate. They conquer. And what they can't have they destroy.
Here I am in the City of Ottawa, Ontario, forever worrying about both my fellow Lebanese Christians worldwide, and the fate of the Western world as Western leaders sleep and civilizations and religions clash. I bet some of you feel that I've painted a grim portrait of my half of Lebanon and a negative portrait of the other half. I'll be honest and say that I am biased. However, my fellow Lebanese Christians aren't perfect. Take my father for example. He's a good man who sacrifices a lot for his family, but he's also racist. My father doesn't like people of African descent. I was so happy when he and my mother moved to the City of Calgary, Alberta. It means I can now move around the City of Ottawa without worrying about running into them. I fear their reaction when they find out who I have fallen in love. Okay, here goes nothing. His name is Christopher Williamson, and he's from the City of Trenton, New Jersey. Christopher is American, born in Jersey City to attorney Raymond Williamson, a proud Jamaican-American father and Isabel O'Connor, an Irish Catholic from Boston. He's six-foot-two, lean and muscular, and he's by far the most beautiful man I've ever laid eyes on with his light brown skin, curly Black hair and hazel eyes.
I met Christopher Williamson in September 2011 at Carleton University. He was a recently transfer from Rutgers University in New Jersey. An African-American student at Carleton University. Wow. I've occasionally felt an attraction to Black guys but never acted on it. I mainly dated white guys and Arab Christian guys from Egypt and Lebanon. When I met Christopher, when our eyes met, I felt...something. Something I had never felt before. The tall young African-American man smiled at me, and asked me where he could find the Loeb building. I was heading to the Minto Center but I lied and told him I was heading to Loeb. Along the way I introduced myself. And learned a bit about him. Before he left for his first class as an MBA student, he gave me his number. I immediately texted him, wishing him a warm welcome to Canada. Yeah, Christopher was cute. I just didn't expect to fall in love with him.
Here we are in April 2012. Christopher and I have been dating for eight months now. We get along wonderfully, and we have a lot in common. We both went to catholic school growing up. And we both knew what it was like to be persecuted, in our own ways. As Lebanese Christians in a predominantly Muslim part of Lebanon, my family was often targeted for mistreatment. As a biracial family in a mostly white and affluent part of the town of Trenton, New Jersey, Christopher's family often found swastikas and racial slurs on their front lawn. We were made for each other. In him I found the kindred spirit I had long sought. In me, he found the woman he had spent years looking for.
At the end of the day, we are just a man and a woman who care for each other. That's it, really. Who cares if we're from opposite sides of the world? I recently wrote a letter telling my father that I've fallen in love with a good Christian man from America who happens to be of African descent. And I'm not giving him up. My father has yet to reply to me. It's been four weeks. The tracking number issued to me by Canada Post guaranteed me that the letter was delivered. I know this because I required that someone sign for it. So, my father knows that Christopher and I are together. Maybe his silence means he's processing it. Or perhaps he's rejecting our relationship, and me. Whatever. It's my life. And I must live it my way. Christopher and I are together, and that's that.