Abdel Latif Derian reminded Muslim students of the importance of the Christian presence in the region. Attacks against them are a crime against the entire population. Muslims and Christians share "the same fate". For Mgr Gemayel, the Mufit’s words echo John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation. Supporting and nurturing this voice is a must.
Beirut (AsiaNews) – The words of the great Mufti Abdel Latif Derian are "more than courageous", they are a "valuable" act that fits "with the spirit" of the Apostolic Exhortation A hope for Lebanon by John Paul II of 1997, said Mgr Maroun-Nasser Gemayel, bishop of the Maronite Catholic Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon of Paris, about the Sunni authority in Lebanon, speaking to AsiaNews.
He recently had said that the Middle East is destined to disappear if the exodus of Christians from the region continues.
During the graduation ceremony of 350 students at Makased institutes, private Islamic schools in Lebanon, the Mufti of the Republic said that "We live in the same country with Christians, we share the air and the daily bread. We have the same destiny: our future will either be together or not."
Addressing Muslim students and officials, the 65-year-old Abdel Latif Derian – known as a man of peace and dialogue, critical of those who foment divisions between Sunnis and Shias – added that attacks on Christians are a crime against the entire population.
Islamic schools must educate the future generations to accept the good principles of citizenship, as well as love for the Arab identity and the sense of brotherhood towards the whole human family.
Mgr Maroun-Nasser Gemayel welcomed the Mufti’s words with gratitude. The prelate is very much aware of the Christian exodus from the Middle East to European nations, especially France.
"Living in the same region, having experienced in the past hours of glory and sadness, Christians and Muslims are called to build together a future of collaboration and conviviality," as Pope John Paul II said in his exhortation.
The shared task of "building together" the region should be "shouted out loud", he explained, and "opposed to all the wars" that have devastated the Middle East, starting from the barbarity perpetrated by the jihadists of the Islamic State group.
At the same time, the part of the Muslim world that works for dialogue and peace must always find more room and a greater voice because it represents "the wind of hope".
"It is necessary that this voice, which meets the expectations of Christians, spread everywhere," the bishop said. It must become the grassroot voice of Muslims, "the voice of everyone" to allows us to enter into a true "logic of peace".
A new party must be created, that of "living together. The moment has come for this conviviality to be asserted and consolidated once and for all."
More than a week ago, on 7 July in Bari, Pope Francis utter words similar to those pronounced by the Grand Mufti, during an ecumenical prayer with Christian leaders and patriarchs of the East.
“There is a risk that the presence of our brothers and sisters in faith will be cancelled, disfiguring the very face of the region, because a Middle East without Christians would not be the Middle East."
(Fady Noun contributed to this article)