01/20/2020, 10.11
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Card al-Rahi slams Lebanese politicians responsible for the country’s ‘shame and disgrace’

In his homily yesterday, the cardinal slammed Lebanon’s politicians, especially those hindering the formation of a government. The latter is behind last week-end’s protests and clashes. At least 370 injured on Saturday. The cardinal again backs the “legitimate” demands of the people.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanon’s political leaders “bear the responsibility of shame and disgrace for what happened in Hamra and Beirut,” said yesterday Card Beshara al-Rahi, Patriarch of the Maronite Church, in his Sunday homily, following the latest round of anti-government protests.

The cardinal berated the country’s leaders for lacking even “an iota of humanity, especially those who are obstructing the formation of a government” at a time of renewed violence among people exasperated by months of political and economic crisis, with rising unemployment, wage cuts, and a banking system on the verge of collapse.

Over the weekend, security forces in Beirut clashed with protesters, firing rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the crowd, with people responding by pelting riot police with stones and other material.

Sunday’s confrontation broke out near parliament a day after more than 370 people were injured, the highest casualty toll since protests began. The Lebanese Red Cross said it treated 52 people and took 38 to hospital.

The spark that set off the unrest was the continued failure by political leaders to set up a government after months of stalemate and uncertainties, and deal with the worsening economic crisis.

“We have gone from being a country we used to call the Switzerland of the east to a country ranked at the bottom in everything,” said housewife Rezzan Barraj, 47, at Sunday night’s protest.

Exacerbated by economic hardships, anti-government protests escalated in mid-December, when it became clear that, largely because of cross-vetoes, no one was going to be able to form a government to replace the one that resigned on 29 October.

On several occasions, top Church leaders have reminded politicians about their responsibility and the urgency to stir the ship of state in a country that is dangerously close to a cliff.

In yesterday's homily, Patriarch al-Rahi renewed his support for the people and its “legitimate” demands, which political leaders must meet.

He slammed the latter for distorting the meaning and essence of politics as an honourable art in the service of the people and the common good, making four specific demands.

First, he wants the state not to underestimate the youth revolution nor retaliate. Secondly, those tasked with setting up a government should hurry up to save the country. Thirdly, he wants the military and the security forces to bring calm and prevent clashes. Lastly, he wants the international community to take the Lebanese question seriously since the country plays an important role in the Mideast.

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