Beirut (AsiaNews) – “Those who have lost are looking for excuses for their defeat”. With these words the Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir responded to the attack against him by the leader of Hezbollah, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, who had asked for an explanation regarding the Cardinals warning on the eve of the elections that the nation risked loosing its “Arab Lebanese identity”.
Without naming the secretary of the Party of God, the Maronite Patriarch in a discourse to a group of visitors affirmed: “there were the elections, with winners and losers. It is only natural that those who lost are now seeking excuses to justify their defeat. I said – he continued – what I said, convinced that Lebanon has a past, a history and a future. Lebanon will remain what it is through the will of the people. We do not want to become strangers in our own land. We said that Lebanon must be neither pro East (Iran and Syria ed) nor pro West but a crossroads between the two. Some wanted it to belong solely to the East. We replied that Lebanon belongs neither to the East nor to the West. This displeases some and pleases other that is politics. But events had taken on a certain shape and we felt it our duty to distinguish one from the other, to state things as they are”.
Thus far the Patriarch. Some Maronite parliamentarians were far harsher and much more explicit in their response. The leader of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea described Nasrallah’s statement as an “unacceptable insult” adding that the secretary general of Hezbollah “has no right to insult” the cardinal. “He would do better not to talk about the Patriarch Sfeir and we ask him to respect our religion in the same way we respect theirs”.
Nassib Lahoud underlines the “undeniable accusatory tone” of the Party of God leader, which not only violated the ways in which one behaves towards a national religious institution, but which is also “in total contradiction to the appeal he himself launched, to avoid attacks on the religious sentiments of others”. Another deputy, Boutros Harb, reaffirmed the “absolute right of the Martonite Patriarchate to sound the alarm if it feels Lebanese identity is being threatened” and that “no-one has the right to criticise Bkerke (the Patriarchal See, ed) for its love for this identity”.
Former President Amin Gemayel, says he was “surprised by the negative content” of Nasrallah’s declaration and supported that the cardinal represents “the conscience of Lebanon” and is an “authentic representative of public opinion that was concerned by Hezbollah’s arms”. Carlos Eddé, who met with the patriarch, also responded to Nasrallah’s charges, saying he did not hear the Patriarch express a similar concern regarding Israel. “Israel – said Eddé – threatened Lebanon, it wanted our water, it occupied and destroyed our lands, but it never threatened Lebanese identity as such. It never attempted to turn it into a Zionist identity or change the way its people live or think. We speak about the threat against the Lebanese identity, because in Lebanon there are groups who refer to a foreign system of values, who do not have their own Lebanese existence”.