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mediazioni e arbitrati, risoluzione alternativa delle controversie e servizi di mediazione e arbitrato
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» 08/16/2010
LEBANON
Offensive to Christians, Jesus series broadcast on Shia networks for Ramadan is cancelled
by Fady Noun
Shia-controlled Al-Manar and NBN networks pull Iranian series based on an apocryphal story about Jesus in which Judas dies in his place. The golden rule of dialogue triumphs over misunderstandings. The controversy is likened to the Muhammad caricature.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – There is no freedom without respect for others. The West does not know this, claiming instead that the right to free expression is absolute and that it can be exercised without controls. By contrast, Lebanon provides an example of the former. Al-Manar TV and NBN are Shia-oriented networks.  Last Thursday, they stopped broadcasting a 17-episode series on the life of Jesus for the month of Ramadan, based on the gospel of Barnabas, a text considered apocryphal by scholars. According to the text, the Apostle Judas took Jesus’ place and died on the Cross.

It was a good decision according to Lebanon’s Information Minister Tarek Mitri because “it showed once again that Lebanon is in the forefront of interfaith dialogue,” that it “respected the golden rule of dialogue, namely speaking about others in ways that they can recognise themselves.” In his view, the decision is “ground breaking and shall serve as a model in other situations”.

Church authorities and Christians in general were upset when the series’ first two episodes were shown on 11 and 12 August. After viewing them, the Catholic Information Centre (CIC), on behalf of the Assembly of Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon, called for a stop to the series in order that some scenes deemed offensive to the Christian faith removed. However, “Soon, it was realised that there was too much to” cut, Mitri said.

Tensions between the authorities and the population lasted only 24 hours. Around 2 pm on Friday, during a hectic press conference held at the CIC headquarters, the Information minister announced with pride that both networks had decided of their own free will to drop the series.

Top officials at the two networks took the decision “so as not to offend the Christian faith or hurt the religious feelings of Christians.”

Mgr Bechara Rahi, Maronite archbishop of Jbeil and president of the Bishops’ Commission on Social Communications, and other Church leaders, stood with Mitri when the latter described the decision “as going beyond politics” or “a power relationship where there is a winner and a loser”. For him, it transcends a purely legal solution since the General Security Office could have banned the series.

When Western media published caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, Muslims the world over demanded public apologies. In this case, journalists asked Tarek Mitri if the insult warranted reparations and excuses. His response was to say that the series’ withdrawal “is more eloquent than a thousand apologies.”

“It is a victory for Lebanon, for its cultural and religious originality,” Mitri explained, adding that he appreciated the networks’ decision to bear the financial burden caused by breaking the contract to broadcast the series.

For his part, Maronite archbishop of Jbeil simply said, “Truth triumphed”.


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See also
10/14/2011 MIDDLE EAST – ISLAM
The role of Christians and minorities in the Arab world’s future
by Tarek Mitri
03/21/2008 PAKISTAN
Christians and Muslims together against violence in Faisalabad
by Qaiser Felix
02/13/2008 LEBANON
Clashes between opposing factions ahead of pro-government rally
02/15/2008 PAKISTAN
Bishops: 'no' to the cartoons on Muhammad; it's a mistake to republish them
by Qaiser Felix
02/03/2006 ISLAM
Muhammad cartoons provoke attacks and bombs

Editor's choices
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Almost 700,000 euros raised as the 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraA second instalment is sent with funds raised in September. The fate of East-West relations is being played out in the Middle East and Iraq. Pope Francis and the Synod issue an appeal. Governments are lukewarm. Aid is coming from around the world. A new international community is defeating the "globalisation of indifference."
IRAQ-VATICAN
"Adopt a Christian from Mosul": Archbishops’ thanks as first aid arrives
by Amel NonaMsgr. Amel Nona, the Chaldean Archbishop of Mosul, who is also a refugee himself, thanks all the donors to the AsiaNews campaign. The situation is increasingly difficult given the huge number of refugees and the arrival of winter and snow, making outdoor shelters and tents impossible. The crisis, an occasion that activates the faith of Christians.
ITALY - IRAQ
After raising € 350,000, 'Adopt a Christian from Mosul' campaign continues
by Bernardo CervelleraDonations raised up to 31 August have been sent to the patriarch of Baghdad and the bishops of Kurdistan. The campaign helps to feed, house, clothe, and bring comfort to more than 150,000 Christian, Yazidi, Turkmen, Shia and Sunni refugees who fled the violence of the army of the Islamic Caliphate. People in Italy and around the world have been generous, including the poor and the unemployed, a sign of hope for the world as well as those who suffer and those who give.

Dossier

by Giulio Aleni / (a cura di) Gianni Criveller
pp. 176
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