Beirut, Maronite Church and pro-Hezbollah newspaper in unprecedented clash
by Fady Noun

The bishops take sides in defence of Card Raï, attacked by the daily al-Akhbar. At the center of the controversy his Sunday homily and the attack on weapons and explosives depots in residential areas. Prelates say the real enemies are those who foment tension. The goal of "active neutrality". Suspicions of tampering with the scene of the explosions are growing, along the lines of the Hariri murder.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Following an unprecedented “paid and planned” attack on Patriarch Raï, carried in the newspaper al-Akhbar, the Episcopal Commission for Social Communications has stated that information on "hidden weapons and explosives in residential areas and among civilians" revealed in his Sunday Homily are "without any doubt".

“Instead of abusively accusing the patriarch, whose sources of information leave no doubts of any kind, we advise this newspaper to verify and investigate the statements that reveal that weapons and explosives are being hidden and stored in residential areas and among civilians. Otherwise – affirm the bishops - in reality, the enemy is hiding, among them”.

In his homily, considered the first direct attack on Hezbollah’s military strategy, Patriarch Raï had asked the leaders to "consider the explosion at the port of Beirut as a warning signal". The Cardinal called on authorities  "to search all the weapons depots illegally located in the heart of residential districts, in cities and villages".

The head of the Maronite Church added that “certain Lebanese regions have become minefields, which could blow up at any moment. The presence of these hidden weapons depots represents a real threat to the life of the Lebanese, which does not belong to anyone, any party or any organization ”. "It is time - concluded the cardinal - to unearth these weapons and these explosives, so that citizens can truly feel safe".

Furthermore, the patriarch, who has been promoting and relaunching the principle of Lebanon's "active neutrality" for several weeks, stressed: "Today, Lebanon needs peace more than ever to recover its strength, We have had enough of wars, of fighting and conflicts that, moreover, none of us had ever wanted”.

The al-Akhbar newspaper interpreted this desire for peace as a way to "promote peace with the Israeli enemy". It maintains that the warnings against secret weapons and explosives depots are "an adhesion to Israeli propaganda, against the resistance".

The Episcopal Commission for Social Communications says it is "stunned by fears and panic over any international investigation [on the August 4 explosion in the port of Beirut, ed], as if we were hiding something, indirectly confirming the suspicions relating to a manipulation of the crime scene, exactly as happened after the assassination of the then Prime Minister, the martyr Rafic Hariri”.

In fact, [the commission] urged the security forces to do their job "without regard to people, under any circumstances, because human life is more precious than all the regional equations that have led to nothing but destruction and economic, financial and social crises in Lebanon". Finally, it denounced the efforts made by al-Akhbar "to denigrate the courageous proposals of the patriarch on positive neutrality and the need to free power from this hold".