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    » 09/13/2012, 00.00

    LEBANON - VATICAN

    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

    14/09/2012 SYRIA - LEBANON - VATICAN
    Nuncio in Damascus: Benedict XVI a beacon for the Middle East
    Archbishop Mario Zenari hopes that the Pope's visit to Lebanon will encourage the international community, Syrian army and rebels to pursue the path of dialogue. The prayer of the Syrian Christians. But no Syrian bishop will be in Beirut. Situation in Aleppo and in the suburbs of Damascus increasingly dramatic.

    14/09/2012 LEBANON - VATICAN
    Pope: yes to Arab spring, no fundamentalism and weapons
    On his way to Beirut, Benedict XVI answers journalists' questions, saying that he is "happy" and "sure" about the trip, and that he never thought of cancelling it. Christians, but also Muslims, are suffering and leaving Syria.

    23/11/2012 VATICAN - LEBANON
    Pope remembers his Lebanon visit during meeting with President Sleiman
    The Lebanese leader is in Rome with 500 compatriots for tomorrow's consistory during which Maronite Patriarch Bechara Rai will become a cardinal. As a gift, he brought a big photo album, with pictures taken during the pope's pastoral visit in September to Lebanon.

    12/09/2012 VATICAN - LEBANON
    Vatican slams anti-Muslim provocations, cites pope's positive example in Lebanon
    The head of the Vatican Press Office condemns the "unjustified offense and provocations against the sensibilities" of Muslims caused by a movie mocking Muhammad. Such actions "nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence." In Lebanon, Benedict XVI wants to build coexistence among believers. A meeting in Beirut's Museum Square is held to welcome the pope.

    08/06/2015 SYRIA – LEBANON
    Bechara al-Rahi in Damascus for the Assembly of Patriarchs
    This year, the patriarchs chose to meet in Syria (not in Lebanon) to reassure Christians of every Church in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Yemen . . . “We patriarchs are with you,” Mgr al-Rahi said. In a plea to the faithful, he called on them not to lose hope, but pray and work for the return home of 12 million Syrians displaced by the war. He also said he might visit Maaloula.



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