Many Syrian refugees are converting from Islam to Christianity in order to find safety in Lebanon.
According to UK Telegraph, the refugees revealed that they decided to convert to benefit from the generous aid distributed by Christian charities and to help their asylum applications to Europe, the United States, Canada and elsewhere.
Ibrahim Ali, one of such converts, said people like him would do anything to secure their family.
“Almost everyone attending the classes was Muslim. Mostly Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I’d never seen anything like it – Muslims singing about Jesus,” Ali said.
“Changing religion in the Middle East is a very big thing. In Syria you very occasionally hear of Christians converting to Islam but never the other way round.
“A lot of people are doing it to get to Europe, the US and Canada. While I plan to stay in Lebanon, I know hundreds who been baptised just to help their applications. They would do anything to have security for their family.”
Ali said he fled his home in the countryside of Aleppo for Lebanon shortly after the war started in 2011.
He said he was working with the hope of raising some money to support his wife and the seven children he left behind.
Along with her family, Alia al-Haji, a 29-year-old mother, attends a church in the nearby Christian neighbourhood of Achrafiyeh.
al-Haji said once she is baptised, she plans to apply to Canada for asylum.
“The UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) tells us it doesn’t help your application to be Christian, but that’s not our experience,” she said.
“The Lebanese hate the refugees, so they make life as hard for us as possible. My son is sick and we can’t afford medicine. My husband is not allowed to work – I feel we will die here if we stay.”
Said Deeb, a pastor, at the Church of God, where Ali worshipped and was baptised, said the refugees come to beg him to help them convert to Christianity because they feel it would help them claim asylum abroad.
“I have people begging me to help them become Christian. They think it will help them claim asylum abroad. They say ‘just baptise me, I will believe in whoever just to leave here’,” Deeb said.
“But even if they come for the food and clothing, we see that God changes their hearts. We never force anyone into the religion, it must be their choice, they must accept Jesus.”
Recently, President Michel Aoun of Lebanon declared that the country could no longer support the huge number of refugees.
He said government would begin sending them back to safe places in Syria.