09/12/2012, 00.00
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.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - A "Profound respect for the beliefs, texts, outstanding figures and symbols of the various religions is" needed "for the peaceful coexistence of peoples," which is what Benedict XVI wants to do with his visit to Lebanon this week-end, said Fr Federico Lombardi, Vatican Press Office director, in response to the violence caused by a second rate US movie that mocks Muhammad.

In reaction to the latter, a group of armed men attacked the US consulate in Benghazi killing the US ambassador, Christopher Stevens, and three of his staffers. The US Embassy in Cairo was also attacked yesterday.

"The serious consequences of unjustified offense and provocations against the sensibilities of Muslim believers are once again evident," Vatican Press Office chief Federico Lombardi said in a statement. "The reactions they arouse" can sometimes have "tragic results, which in their turn nourish tension and hatred, unleashing unacceptable violence," he added.

Once more, the incident accentuates tensions in the Muslim world just a few days before Benedict XVI's visit to Lebanon. For some, this, the war in syria and tense relations between Iran and Israel, was bound to postpone the papal trip; however, for Fr Lombardi, the visit is instead a model for coexistence among believers.

For the Vatican spokesman, Pope Benedict XVI's three-day visit to Lebanon starting on Friday would bring a "message of dialogue and respect for all believers of different religions."

Indeed, his peaceful message indicates "the path that everyone should follow in order to construct shared and peaceful coexistence of religions and peoples."

AsiaNews' correspondent in Lebanon confirms that Christians and Muslims are waiting for the pope.

Tonight in fact, Muslims and Christians will come together for a vigil prayer in Beirut's Museum Square in honour of Benedict XVI's visit.

Musical bands will play and a Muslim will read from the Gospel and a Christian will read from the Qur'an.

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