Damascus (AsiaNews) - "Christians and Muslims, we are each other's best guarantors," writes Gregory III Laham, Greek-Melkite Catholic patriarch of Antioch and All the East in a message "to our beloved Muslim brothers and sisters of the Arab countries and the world" on the occasion of the feast of Eid al-Fitr, which concludes Ramadan.
"This celebration," the message said, "comes under particularly difficult and tragic circumstances in the world; especially in our Arab countries. As beloved Syria and Iraq suffer, Palestine and Gaza hurt, not to mention Morocco, Egypt, Yemen and the Gulf countries."
"Everywhere blood is flowing and desolation grows. Places of worship, mosques like churches, are destroyed. Humanity's sacred rights are violated and its dignity, freedom, and honour are trampled upon, threatening all human, artistic, technical, moral and religious achievements of our culture."
"This Arab civilisation, we Christians and Muslims have forged it together and we have lived in mutual respect. Overcoming the 'clouds of crisis' that came at times," we continued along the path of life; living together, building together and growing together."
"It is with full friendship and loyalty that we present our greetings to our Muslim brothers. Lamenting the innocent victims, Christians and Muslims, men and women, old and young, who die every day, with their blood soaking roads, houses and places of worship in our cities and our villages. They mix their blood, embraced in shared death, as they have been in their history, civilisation, and culture. "
Gregory III then pleads with our "Arab brothers to come together to save Islam and Muslims from its enemies, internal and external, that threaten the Arab world, the Muslim world and elsewhere."
"We, Arab Christians, are the most sincere defenders of Islam, because we know that in good times as in bad times, we were together, keeping together our common heritage and our history. Christians and Muslims. Because we are the best guarantors of each other."
"We appeal to the conscience of the Arab world and Europe and the international community to stand together as one man, in the face of takfirist currents that invade our Arab countries, disfiguring Islam, and driving Christians towards exodus, making death threats against them, humiliating them, slaughtering them, thus depriving the Arab world of its Christians and impoverishing the Muslim world."
The patriarch ends by repeating the terms of a joint Muslim-Christian pledge:
"We have to stay together, Muslims and Christians, to build together a better world for our future generations and our common future.
We can stay together, Muslims and Christians, to build together a better world for our future generations and our common future.
We want to stay together, Muslims and Christians, to build together a better world for our future generations and our common future."