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Christmas trees have cropped up over the last two weeks around the majority-Shiite neighborhood and its churches.Michel Aoun, Haret Hreik was once a predominantly Christian neighborhood."The war changed the face of the area," Waked said. He heads the neighborhood's municipal council, which is split evenly between Christians and Shiites. Many of the area's Christians left the country or moved to other Christian neighborhoods, although some still visit the local churches on Sundays and religious festivals, such as Christmas.Christians remaining in the neighborhood are predominantly supporters of Aoun's party.The top Christian post in the government – the presidency – has been empty since May due to rivalries between Lebanon's two top Christian leaders, Aoun and Lebanese Forces head Samir Geagea.But local and religious officials from the Christian community in the southern suburbs spoke with defiance against the threat, saying they were growing more determined to remain in communities they have long been part of."What's strange about it?" MP Hikmat Dib said after attending Sunday Mass at the St. Joseph Church in Haret Hreik, when asked about celebrating Christmas in the southern suburbs.St. Joseph Church was damaged in the Israeli bombing of south Beirut during the 2006 war, when an air raid targeted the nearby offices of Sayyed Hussein Fadlallah.
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