11/06/2020, 11.29
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Beirut, Muslim leaders condemn the attacks in Paris, Nice and Vienna

by Fady Noun

In a "rare" common note, Sunni, Shiite and Druze religious leaders express a "firm" condemnation of the attacks. These "crimes" do not represent the Muslim faith. Mohammad Sammak: Enough "murders committed in the name of God, to the cry of Allah Akhbar". Defence of Macron and criticism of the inert Lebanese political and ruling class.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - In a rare joint statement, which for this reason deserves attention and which seems to be cloaked in a political connotation, the mufti of the Lebanese republic Cheikh Abdel Latif Deriane, the head of the Shiite Islamic Higher Council Cheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan and Cheikh Akl , of the Druze community, Naïm Hassan, yesterday condemned the attacks in Paris, Nice and Vienna, rejecting any link between these crimes and Islam.

"We continue to condemn the killers in the strongest way and warn against equating these same crimes with Islam," the religious leaders said in a joint statement. "The accusations of these criminals - continues the note - according to which they commit their massacres in the name of religion, in reality contradict it and in doing so they make themselves enemies of the faith they claim to want to defend".

They also demand inquiries into who exactly “foments, finances and commits these crimes". "Islam is a religion of peace [...] - they underline - which honours the human being and attacking one person is equivalent to attacking all of humanity". However, the religious dignitaries also recalled that "the French law passed in 1905 on secularism decided to separate religion from the state, but it certainly did not set out to abolish religions or faith in God".

Counter cultural

One of the chief instigators of the declaration, Mohammad Sammak, is the co-chairman of the National Committee for Islamic-Christian Dialogue and general secretary of the permanent commission of the Islamic spiritual summit. It is a national commission that speaks on behalf of the four members of the Muslim family: Sunni, Shiite, Druze and Alawite. He told L'Orient-Le Jour that it is in this quality that he operates and has acted.

When it is pointed out that his statement goes "against the grain", because it condemns the killers in the name of religion, while from various parts of the Islamic world, including Lebanon, there are voices of condemnation of France and the offense to Islam, Sammak replies: “We are tired of hearing murders committed in the name of God, under the banner of Allah Akbar! It was our duty, and also the duty imposed by our being men of faith, to denounce these intolerable crimes!”. "It is not permissible - continues Sammak - for a large moderate Islamic current, such as the one present in Lebanon, to remain silent and inert in the face of what the very negation of Islam represents".

“The responsibility that we carry - he adds – goes far beyond the fact of being religious leaders, it is of a national character. Somehow, we have realized that whenever coexistence weakens somewhere in the world, it also weakens within Lebanon. And every time coexistence and acceptance of our differences are strengthened, it is Lebanon that triumphs. This is why it was necessary to raise the voice of Lebanon, to defend them”. "We also had to make ourselves heard to express our solidarity with French President Emmanuel Macron, who did not hesitate to come to Lebanon and stand by us after the ordeal of the 4 August explosion. This was the least we could do”.

The will to go beyond Macron

Of course, the head of the French state, in the heat of the moment, went too far in speaking out in defence of the cartoons, but he tried to make himself understood," Sammak said, anticipating an objection and making every effort to exonerate Macron.

He continued “We must believe in the good faith of the French president. We have good relations with him, and we can count on them”. Over the weekend, however, in an interview with al-Jazeera, Macron said he understands that Muslims may feel "shocked" by the cartoons about Muhammad, but that this shock dies not justify violence.

Finally, the co-chair of the National Committee for Islamic-Christian Dialogue hopes that the joint declaration will pave the way for condemnations, this time from Lebanese officials and high ranking bodies. "We have not heard a single official word condemning the attacks," he adds surprised, while revealing that the joint declaration was born under a tripartite political umbrella. The joint statement follows the beheading in Paris on October 16 of a French teacher, Samuel Paty, at the hands of an Islamic extremist, and the knife attack on October 29 inside a church in Nice, which resulted in three victims. Finally, the murder of four people, on November 2, in the streets of Vienna, Austria, in the context of an attack claimed by the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis).

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