New updates from a Christian satellite network studio in Beirut report that employees continue to persist in Lebanon despite this week’s violent outbreaks in order to support the minority Mideast Christian population.
SAT-7 Beirut staffs described the sky as “blackened with smoke” and roads blocked by “piles of burning tires” as they made their daily commute to the studio on Tuesday.
“Even though at least 50 percent of our staff could not make it to work this morning, our studio remains open,” said SAT-7 Lebanon country director Naji Daoud, according to the broadcast ministry on Tuesday.
Daoud said several scheduled guests had to cancel due to the violence and transportation problems but “still, the team is making adjustments and planning to continue with their production as best as they can.”
Hezbollah-led protestors clashed with government supporters across the country on Tuesday, resulting in three deaths and more than 170 wounded, reported The Associated Press.
Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its supporters demand that the U.S.-backed prime minister resign or create a new government giving it more power.
Nearly half a year has passed since last summer’s deadly Hezbollah-Israel war, yet the country in many areas still remain in ruins and continues to suffer from instability. Outbreaks of violence and tension between Hezbollah and the Lebanese government cause many to fear that an all-out civil war will take place.
“We're very concerned for the safety of our Lebanese staff and board members as well as this interruption to ongoing and much-needed programs," said USA executive director Debbie Brink, in a statement Tuesday.
"We will be working as before to find ways around each obstacle as it surfaces, but our hope is that this doesn't develop into the full fledged civil war so many fear is the inevitable end to the present tensions."
SAT-7 provides 24 hours of Christian programs each day to local Arabic Christians in the Middle East and North Africa. Each week about five to six million people watch the channels, providing support to many Christians who cannot openly attend church services and meetings.
Moreover, the Christian satellite programs are especially important in supporting Mideast Christians as they drastically decline in numbers.
Christians now make up only about four percent of the Middle East, a much lower figure than its 20 percent in 1900, according to SAT-7.
Leading religious freedom experts have expressed concern that the declining number of Christians in the Mideast will lead to greater Islamic extremism. They argue that Christians provide the Mideast culture with the moderating ideas such as tolerance of other faiths, respect for women’s rights and help facilitate Western ideas and culture into the region.