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» 12/16/2005
SYRIA
Fears in Damascus after UN Resolution 1644 is adopted
by Jihad Issa
Almost all streets and stores are empty in the Syrian capital. Many checkpoints have been set up around the city for fear of possible attacks. In Beirut, Card Sfeir urges everyone "to bury hatred".

Damascus (AsiaNews) – Even though Syria's official press put a positive spin on the absence of sanctions against the country, residents of Damascus are worried after the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 1644.

Indeed, tension is quite palpable in the streets. The traditional big Christmas trees that used to don the city at this time of the year are no where to be seen—the government has other things to worry about these days.

Stores are empty and the few would-be buyers drive up to store windows to check prices and then drive off.

Army and police checkpoints have been set up across the city for fear of car bombs. And yet the authorities seem unable to exert the type of total control they once did, especially at this point in time when calls for the regime of Bashar al-Assad to be removed still echo in people's minds.

The atmosphere remains oppressive—people are fearful of what international pressures might do.

Applications for exit visas are up as people try to find some other haven where to raise their family in peace.

Newspapers have focused on the UN refusal to accept all the demands of the Lebanese government and on the looming political crisis that might be caused if the five Hezbollah and Amal ministers in the current Lebanese cabinet decide to boycott it.

Lebanon, too, is at a critical crossroad after the recent wave of car bombs.

Many churches have cancelled Midnight Christmas Mass.

Responding to an appeal by Samir Geagea, and Walid Jumblatt, many young activists belonging to the March 14 Movement have camped out in downtown Beirut.

The Maronite Patriarch, Card Nassrallah Sfeir, who will issue his Christmas message next week, showed his sadness today when he met Fr Antoine Rajeh, rector of the Antonian University, and his council.

In showing his anxiety and expressing his concern, the patriarch called on everyone to give forgiveness a chance. In his view, the prevailing "politics of death" kill and are anti-human.

He urged Catholic universities "to fulfill their duties vis-à-vis young people. [It is they] who can save Lebanon."

In receiving MP Nassib Lahoud, Card Sfeir appealed to everyone to do what Ghassan Tueni, father of slain journalist and lawmaker Gibran Tueni, said, namely "Let hatred be buried with Gibran".


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See also
11/10/2005 SYRIA – LEBANON
Fear and disappointment in Lebanon over Assad's bitter words
by Youssef Hourany
01/02/2006 SYRIA– LEBANON – UNITED NATIONS
UN commission's request for an interview with Assad a bombshell
04/11/2005 LEBANON
Gen Aoun back in May, Geagea free . . . perhaps
01/20/2006 SYRIA – IRAN – LEBANON
Annan announces Syria will cooperate with probe into Hariri murder
by Jihad Issa
01/19/2006 SYRIA – IRAN – LEBANON
Ahmadinejad arrives in Damascus, Brammertz in Beirut

Editor's choices
VATICAN
Pope: I am with the persecuted Christians of Mosul and the Middle East "May the God of peace inspire in all a genuine desire for dialogue and reconciliation. Violence is never defeated with violence. Violence is defeated with peace." At the Sunday Angelus Francis comments on the parable of the wheat and the weeds. God is "patient" He knows "the same weeds in the end, may become good wheat". But "at the time of the harvest, that is, of judgment, the reapers will execute the order of the master separating the weeds to be burned".
CHINA - VATICAN
Beijing, seminarians desert graduation ceremony: We will not celebrate Mass with illegitimate bishops The rector of the seminary is the illegitimate bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin: Students refuse to concelebrate with him and reject Msgr. Fang Xingyao, who has participated in several illegal episcopal ordinations. The directors close the year without awarding diplomas and send students home: rumors of some courses being "suspended" in September. The precedent of 2000, when 130 young students chose fidelity to the Pope over compromise with the government.
HONG KONG-CHINA-VATICAN
Card Zen: Religious freedom and civil liberties are united, for China and Hong Kong
by Bernardo CervelleraA wide ranging conversation with the bishop emeritus of Hong Kong: the courage of Msgr. Ma Daqin, who sent a message to Pope Francis; underground Catholics are also prepared to be arrested; suspicions about Beijing’s sincerity towards possible dialogue with the Holy See. And in Hong Kong, the march for a referendum on democracy; support for "Occupy Central"; the fear of the government and arrests. Card. Zen reaffirms that religious freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand.

Dossier
by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
by Lazzarotto Angelo S.
pp. 528
by Bernardo Cervellera
pp. 240
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