09/13/2012, 00.00

Patriarch Rai: pope calling for peace in Syria, anti-Islam movie offends everyone

Paul Dakiki
For the head of the Maronite Church, Benedict XVI comes as a witness of peace in the Middle East, demanding governments, interested parties and mercenaries to stop buying and using weapons. Together, Christians and Muslims can build for a real Arab Spring. The movie that denigrates Muhammad is an insult to all religions. It is unclear who the director and producer are.

Bkerke (AsiaNews) - During his visit to Lebanon, Benedict XVI will c all for peace in Syria and an end to arms sales to the region, said Patriarch Bechara Rai, at a press conference this morning. The head of the Maronite Church said the anti-Islam movie that caused demonstrations, acts of violence and deaths in Libya, was "shameful".  For him, "this movie offends everybody."

The pope's visit on 14-16 September is designed "to stop the spiral of violence and hatred," the patriarch explained, and "ask arms merchants to stop selling to either group."

Tensions in Syria developed as part of the Arab Spring but turned into an all-out civil war that has left tens of thousands of dead.

Together with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, Western governments are providing rebels with money and weapons. Russia, China and Iran back Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

"The war is not fought in the name of Islam or Christianity, but on behalf of states by interested parties, mercenaries," Rai said.

"Christians and Muslims must come together around some values to build a real Arab Spring," he said.

The pope is coming to Lebanon to sign and promote the Apostolic Exhortation he wrote following the Synod of the Middle East held in Rome in October 2010 that discussed some aspects and values found in the movements that are changing the Arab world.

"The pope's visit is a plea for peace in the Middle East, the separation of state and religion, acceptance of others and diversity within unity," the patriarch added.

Speaking about the anti-Islam movie 'Innocence of Muslims,' produced by an American Jew, the patriarch said that "the movie is offensive towards Muslims, but towards all religions."

"The United Nations and the international community must take a strong stance against such insults," he added.

The low quality movie appears to have been made to offend Muslims. According to the actors who play in it, the plot had nothing to do with Muhammad. The original dialogue was instead changed.

Shown only once in Hollywood, it depicts Muhammad as homosexual, a violent man, a paedophile in favour of child abuse.

The identity of the movie's director and producer is still unclear. It is supposed to be a certain Sam Becile, but in Los Angeles, that is a common alias.

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See also
Nuncio in Damascus: Benedict XVI a beacon for the Middle East
Pope: yes to Arab spring, no fundamentalism and weapons
Pope remembers his Lebanon visit during meeting with President Sleiman
Vatican slams anti-Muslim provocations, cites pope's positive example in Lebanon
Bechara al-Rahi in Damascus for the Assembly of Patriarchs