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    » 09/18/2006, 00.00

    LEBANON

    Moderate voices in Lebanon urge people to read what the Pope actually said



    The Shia mufti of Tyre urges people to what Benedict XVI said with calm and serenity. Patriarch Sfeir sees political motivations behind the reactions in some Muslim quarters.

    Beirut (AsiaNews) – "Let us first read what the Pope actually said," urged Ali el-Amin, Shia mufti of Tyre. Such a view of the controversy that surrounds Benedict XVI's Regensburg speech reflects the prevailing attitude in multi-faith Lebanon. Even Hezbollah has limited itself so far to express surprise for remarks that "are contrary to the reality of the Muslim religion", whereas the deputy chairman of the Higher Shia Islamic Council has called for dialogue and the rejection of violence.

    In Christian quarters, reactions in the Muslim world are seen as politically motivated. For Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir the Pope's remarks have been misunderstood. "The motivations behind the criticism are political," he said. Benedict XVI "did not directly talk about Islam. "Christians and Muslims have an interest of working together, especially in Lebanon".

    In his Sunday's homily, Cardinal Sfeir reiterated remarks made a Vatican spokesman according to which the Pope did not express his opinion on Islam, which was not an issue in his address. Instead, the Holy Father respects Islam and rejects religious motivations of violence.

    The Patriarch also mentioned that in the conciliar document Nostra Aetate, the Church held Muslims in "esteem" for they "adore the one God, living and subsisting in Himself; merciful and all-powerful, the Creator of heaven and earth, Who has spoken to men."

    From the same document, he said: "Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom."

    "It was an affront to the Pope for some Muslim religious dignitaries and political leaders to ask him to apologise," said Mgr Béchara Rai, bishop of Jbeilm.

    In an interview with the Voix du Liban, the bishop emphasised the need to read the Pope's statements before making false interpretations.

    "Under normal circumstances, when you have a problem, you go back to the text," he said. "That is what I did. I read the lecture the Pope gave to a German Theology Faculty on the relationship between faith and reason. It's deplorable that so many people reacted without having read the text. This no longer belongs to the realm of reason, but to that emotion."

    Bishop Rai added that he hoped Muslim religious leaders "would read the conference [paper] and express their opinion about the issues raised by the Pope."

    Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan, deputy chairman of the Higher Shia Islamic Council, also urged people to engage in dialogue and reject violence. He expressed "respect for everyone, those who retracted, those who deplored and those who apologised for the accusation made against them."

    In a final appeal to reject violence, Mufti Ali el-Amin called on people to read what the Pope said with "calm and serenity", and avoid "impulsive and irrational reactions as well as street language."

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    See also

    05/02/2007 LEBANON
    Christian and Muslim religious leaders appeal for dialogue, reject violence
    The Maronite and Greek-Melkite patriarchs and the deputy chief of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council call on political leaders to promote peace, tolerance and openness as well as ways to stop emigration, especially among the young.

    12/06/2006 LEBANON
    Lebanon is deeply divided and those responsible worry only about own interests, says Card Sfeir
    Maronite Synod ends with 41 bishops from around the world attending. Patriarch meets High Shiite Council deputy chairman.

    14/09/2006 LEBANON
    Hezbollah, proxy in someone else's fight, says Sfeir
    For the Maronite patriarch, the recent conflict was a war imposed on Lebanon by the United States and Israel on the one hand, and Iran and Syria on the other. Most Shiites are not with Hezbollah when it places itself outside the state, says mufti of Tyre.

    29/08/2008 LEBANON
    Finger pointed at Hizbollah over army helicopter attack
    Where and how the attack occurred place responsibility on the Party of God, which has not yet said anything about it. Lebanon’s governing majority wonders whether there are insuperable borders between the Republic of Lebanon and the state of Hizbollah. Two scenarios are formulated about why the incident took place.

    17/09/2006 ISLAM – VATICAN
    Amid criticism and violence the first balanced views about the Pope's speech appear
    Former Iranian President Khatami and current Indonesian President Susilo warn against jumping to conclusions.



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