10/28/2019, 10.21
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Maronite patriarch against Hezbollah's "red lines": we are a democratic country

by Fady Noun

The cardinal stresses the "ethical dimension" of the crisis and warns of the danger of a totalitarian drift. The authorities must listen to "peaceful and civil demonstrations". Yesterday a human chain of thousands from Tripoli to Tire. Motorway transformed into a huge car park. The cardinal to the protesters: you are not the masters of the streets.

Beirut (AsiaNews / LOJ) - Thousands of Lebanese formed a human chain yesterday - interrupted in the areas with a Shiite majority - 170 km long, from Tripoli to Tire, passing through the capital Beirut, along the country's highways and coastal roads. A peaceful demonstration of solidarity with the anti-government protests that broke out on October 17th, which have now reached the eleventh day and which seem to show no sign of diminishing. This new initiative shows the "determination" of a population that is increasingly demanding economic reforms and a real fight against corruption.

The human chain was also joined by another initiative, which involved hundreds of motorists who blocked their cars on the Antelias - Jal el-Dib highway in the Metn district last night, turning the artery into an immense parking area. Once again, the Maronite patriarch intervened on the protests, renewing the invitation to "listen to the people's claims" and attacking those who [read Hezbollah] try to "impose their own vision".

The Maronite patriarch, Card Beshara Raï, yesterday outlined the cause of the protests that broke out on October 17 as well as the options - in his opinion - for a dignified solution to this crisis . The Cardinal spoke before deputies and demonstrators of the CPL (the free patriotic current, of Christian extraction) who flocked to attend Sunday mass in Bkerké and listen to his homily. Just like Pope Francis at the Angelus prayer, the Maronite patriarch highlighted the ethical dimension of the crisis that the country is going through. And raising the tone, he warned against the serious totalitarian drift that threatens Lebanese democracy.

On more than one occasion, during the homily, the patriarch urged the authorities to "listen to the people's demands", not to "despise or disdain peaceful and civilian demonstrations" and not "discredit or cast the shadow over them of betrayal ”.

The head of the Maronite Church described the demonstrations as "a positive reforming revolution" and spoke of a "state of inclusive citizenship and diversity", using in this regard a concept developed by the Adyan Foundation, which is beginning to spread.

We are in a democracy, he recalled, with a frank allusion to the "red lines" drawn by the head of Hezbollah, in front of the protests that have involved the whole nation. "We are a democratic country, not a dictatorship - he underlined - pluralist and not totalitarian, national and not sectarian. No one has the right to sum up the voice of the people in their own person and to impose their own vision of things and their own will ”.

Only new faces

Patriarch Raï called for the formation of a government "entirely composed of new, moderate and neutral faces, whose composition would be established beforehand, so as to avoid any danger of governmental emptiness at the time of the resignation of the current executive.

The new government would have the task of implementing the reform program announced by Saad Hariri on 21 October, and approved by the executive itself and by the head of state.

This reform program, he assured, "is accepted" by the protesters. The patriarch, convinced that the formation of the government "will remove the specter of economic and financial collapse" insisted on the convergence between the requests for reforms of the popular uprising and those of the head of state ".

Ethical dimension

Card. Beshara Raï wanted to underline "the spiritual, ethical and cultural dimension" of the demands of the popular revolt. The material requests, he added, are grafted to those that touch social justice. At the same time he spoke of the "dignity and basic rights" of the population, as well as the failures of governance, which have a very specific name: "Negligence, exclusion, despotism, oppression and contempt".

The patriarch then recommended the demonstrators "to facilitate the movement of the population" and not to "behave as if they were the masters of the streets, which are public property". However, he warned that if the ruling class ignores the revolt movement, it "risks becoming even larger [...] and being manipulated by subversive agents.

In conclusion, the Maronite patriarch has invited all the protesters who wish to do or to recite the Rosary with him every day at 5.30 pm, as a sort of winning way out of the crisis, and "to spare Lebanon the winter of a destructive Arab spring".

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