Events in Syria, though making headlines across the globe, and impacting the lives of everyone inside the country have left the Church in Lebanon tongue-tied it appears. Aline Sara, news editor of NOW Lebanon reflects on the political, religious, social and cultural issues which have led many Lebanese and Syrian Christians to refrain from criticising the regime for its crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
All eyes are now on National Transition Council (NTC) in Libya, following the demise of the Gaddafi regime. A week ago I recorded another Middle East Analysis podcast that seeks to examine the challenges it faces.
What started in Tunisia simply cannot stop now in Libya, says Harry Hagopian. It should not only grow but also improve incrementally so that we all stop talking romantically about a one-season 'Arab Spring' and think more pragmatically in terms of an Arab Awakening from a long slumber - a stubborn challenge against those rulers and elites who would prefer their co-citizens to remain dormant.
In the light of Eid Al-Fitr at the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, the continuing bloodshed in Syria comes into focus in my latest Middle East Analysis podcast with the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales - as we discuss the current situation and also look at the plight of the country's Christians.
Today Syria is a lesson about how motivated citizens can challenge governments that act violently and seem invincible, says Harry Hagopian. But we also need to be wary towards religious radicalism or fanaticism on the one hand, and military arrogance or political kleptocracy on the other, infiltrating movements for change and co-opting them in order to impose new forms of dictatorships, totalitarian control, subjugation and discrimination.
Every now and then, a person enters our lives and leaves a strong imprint. The high-profile global evangelical leader John Stott has been much commented on since his recent death. But there are other figures, less immediately identifiable in media terms, who help change the world for the better.
The social and economic crises President Assad referred to in his recent speech mask the real political crisis, says Harry Hagopian. This concerns the governance of the country, the relationship between the different members of the ruling dynasty, and the fact that the major impediment to a normalisation of the situation is the mounting anger against the two-million strong security services and police force who have been running amok and applying myriad forms of retributive action against largely unarmed demonstrators.
Ahead of my upcoming travels in Europe concerning the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, I have recorded another podcast for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and for sharing on Ekklesia and beyond.