02/05/2007, 00.00
LEBANON
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Christian and Muslim religious leaders appeal for dialogue, reject violence

The Maronite and Greek-Melkite patriarchs and the deputy chief of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council call on political leaders to promote peace, tolerance and openness as well as ways to stop emigration, especially among the young.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Faced with an endless political crisis, Christian and Muslim religious leaders in appeals made yesterday urged their fellow Lebanese to remain calm and reject the logic of violence.

In Sunday mass, the Maronite Patriarch, Card Nasrallah Sfeir, harshly criticised those who exploit people to realise their political project. He insisted on calling on political leaders to remember their civic duties which are based on unchanging moral principles like peace, tolerance and openness to others.

The patriarch renewed his appeal that no effort be spared to cleanse one’s mind and help the population remain in the country of their forebears. He spoke in particular of university graduates who cannot find good paying jobs, something, he said, “which is forcing many young people to leave the country for other places where they can apply their skills.”

Patriarch Sfeir congratulated the Lebanese army for its attitude during recent incidents, expressing his satisfaction for the impartiality it showed. This spared the country further divisions and provided political leaders with an example of coexistence to follow.

The deputy chief of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan also addressed political leaders. He asked them to listen to their conscience which forbids killing and violence.

In the weekly memorial service for a young Shiite killed during clashes between followers of Hezbollah and members of Saad Hariri’s Future movement, he illustrated what a religious leader should be, namely “impartial, tolerant, generous, peaceful and capable of forgiving.”

He called on political leaders to conduct their business in ways that spare the nation another wave of violence “which could mean the end of a country that brought civilisation to the rest of the world through the alphabet invented by its Phoenician ancestors”.

Sheikh Kabalan also expressed a desire that the inter-Lebanese dialogue start up again; it is, in his opinion, the only way of building a better future for Lebanon’s people.

During the ceremony that saw Mgr Abdo Arbach take over as new patriarchal auxiliary in the Cathedral of our Lady of Deliverance, in the town of Zahle in the Beqaa Valley, the Greek-Melkite Patriarch Gregorius III Laham also expressed a desire to see dialogue renewed, which for him is the only necessary path and ‘sine qua non’ condition for a lasting peace and a solution that “is noble and worthy of the history of Lebanon”.

He condemned those voices raised against the dignity of Man and called on all political leaders to sign an agreement that would ban the use of threats and words that might hurt people and their personal histories.

He appealed to everyone to join forces in order to rebuild the country and free minds of their anxieties and insecurities. He finally reiterated the need to stop emigration which represents “a sword that could break the unity of the Lebanese family”.

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