03/15/2021, 14.07
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Al-Azhar monitoring committee backs Maronite patriarch’s support for Lebanese neutrality

by Fady Noun

Over the weekend, former Prime Minister Siniora, head of the committee, met with Card Beshara Al-Rahi. Christians and Muslims support the cardinal’s appeal against the politics of factions and never-ending conflicts. An appeal is made to the international community to protect and respect Lebanon’s sovereignty.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - The interreligious committee created after the 2017 declaration of al-Azhar on citizenship, diversity and complementarity led by former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora has expressed full support for the proposal of the Maronite Patriarch Beshara Cardinal al-Rahi in favour of Lebanon's neutrality.

“We have come here today, Christians and Muslims, to affirm our support for the appeal of the patriarch in favour of the neutrality of Lebanon in the face of a politics of factions, armed conflicts, and games between states,” Siniora said at the end of a meeting on Saturday in Bkerké that included committee members and the Maronite patriarch.

“The goal is to safeguard our shared life and confirm Lebanon's mission in the Arab and international context. We call on the international community to fulfil its obligations towards a founding member of the United Nations,” he added.

“Lebanon is witness today, as the patriarch states, of a coup d'état against its own charter, its constitution and its own sovereignty, which is equivalent to attacking its own raison d'être,” Siniora explained.

The former prime minister says that Patriarch Beshara Al-Rahi’s appeal is “that of a good shepherd [...] in the face of an oppressor who, thanks to an excess of force that comes from abroad, keeps the Lebanese people in a situation of slavery.”

For this reason, Siniora urges “citizens of all classes and communities to generously welcome the patriarch's initiative”.

“In all this, we can see the echo of the famous 'Declaration on human fraternity’ (2019) signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar (Ahmad al-Tayyeb), with all that it represents as a force for moderation and tolerance in a troubled world.”

The Pope followed this voice “once more in the context of the historic meeting in Iraq with Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, thus helping to preserve the pluralism, coexistence and sovereignty of the Iraqi state.”

“As he was leaving Iraq, His Holiness said he wanted to go to Lebanon, a nation that is facing an existential crisis. So how can we not be on the side of the Patriarch and support his ideas and his efforts to face this crisis?” noted Siniora.

“We have come to say that the protection of Lebanon passes through compliance with the national document of understanding (Taif Accord), the constitution and its democratic parliamentary system, as well as the application of resolutions (of the UN Security Council) relating to its sovereignty,” said the former head of government in concluding his address.

The committee delegation that visited Bkerké included former minister Khaled Qabbani, former lawmaker Fares Souaid, co-chairman of the National Committee for Islamic-Christian Dialogue Mohammad Sammak, together with professors Mona Fayyad, Antoine Messarra ( coordinator of the Master in Islamic-Christian relations at the Université Saint-Joseph) and Khaled Ziadé.

Pictured: the al-Azhar interreligious monitoring committee in Bkerké. “What is under attack is the nature and essence of Lebanon itself.” Michel Akl / Bkerké

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