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    » 05/20/2013, 00.00

    LEBANON

    Maronite patriarch slams Lebanese politicians who "don't deserve to rule"



    Bisharah Al-Rahi attacks the government's action during a trip to South America. The electoral law and poverty top the list of problems. However, Syria's civil war continues to be the main concern. Lebanon should not "interfere in the conflict in Syria".

    Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Maronite Patriarch Mar Bisharah Al Rahi used extremely strong language to criticise Lebanese politicians during a tour of Latin America. Speaking at a meeting with the Maronite community in Colombia, he said it was unacceptable that "after six years of discussions and wasting time," they have not been able "to reach common ground over an electoral law." The patriarch also raised the issue of poverty in the country, noting that one third of the population survives because of US$ 8 billion in annual remittances from relatives living abroad.

    Bisharah Al-Rahi replaced Card Nasrallah Sfeir, who promoted national unity during Syria's occupation of Lebanon. Now that Syria is in crisis, al-Rahi spoke at the meeting in Colombia about his strong concern over the evolution of the crisis in Syria and its possible repercussions on Lebanon.

    "We have always demanded others not to meddle in our local affairs and it's not acceptable for us to interfere in the conflict in Syria," a worried cardinal said.

    The Maronite patriarch's statement echoes rising tensions along the Lebanese-Syrian border.

    Hizbollah, a Shia-based party, is pro-Assad and has provided Damascus with men to fight the widespread opposition. At the same time, a growing number of Lebanese Sunnis have joined the fight against the Syrian regime.

    In recent days, fighting at al-Qusayr, near the Lebanese border saw the participation of Lebanese Sunnis. Media reports indicate that Hizbollah lost about 20 fighters.

    Lebanon has always been an example of Christian-Muslim social and political coexistence. However, between 1975 and the 1990, the country was torn apart by a bloody civil war between sectarian factions, fuelled by outside forces like Syria and Israel.

    Should Syria's civil war spill over into Lebanon, it might reignite sectarian rivalry among the most extremist groups in the country's various religious communities.

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    See also

    03/01/2008 LEBANON
    A “hateful political climate” prevails as paralysis encourages emigration, say Maronite bishops
    Patriarch Sfeir and other prelates accuse “nations and individuals” as well as “Lebanese and foreign leaders” of trying to prolong the country’s stalemate, which is causing greater poverty and boosting emigration.

    16/05/2006 LEBANON
    A new UN resolution is unfortunately necessary, says Sfeir
    Issues such Hizbollah's disarmament and Syro-Lebanese borders and diplomatic relations are still unresolved. The country and its Christian leaders are split into two camps. In light of Benedict XVI'S intuition, a dialogue with Islam is possible but only at a human and social level, not in terms of doctrine.

    23/12/2005 LEBANON
    Card Sfeir urges international community not to abandon Lebanon
    Maronite patriarch is concern about terrorism's revival. He urges the Lebanese to continue believing in dialogue as the only way out of the current crisis. Saad Hariri accuses Syria of launching a terrorist war against Beirut. Walid Jumblatt calls on the secretary of the Arab League to stop Damascus.

    02/03/2006 LEBANON
    National dialogue begins as bishops distance themselves from Lahoud
    The president is a divisive factor among Lebanese and must "assume his responsibilities before God and History," say the prelates.

    18/06/2009 LEBANON
    Hizbollah wants an “explanation” from Patriarch Sfeir
    Hizbollah leader attacks cardinal for a statement the latter made ten days ago, on the eve of the elections, in which he expressed concern for Lebanon’s national and Arab identity. Nasrallah accuses Sfeir of not coming out against Israeli attacks and massacres.



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