11/04/2010, 00.00
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Maronite bishops urge political leaders to ditch language of defiance and rejection of others

Lebanese prelates are concerned about rising tensions in the country, especially in regards to the international tribunal investigating the attack that killed former PM Hariri. Hizbollah renews its call for a boycott of the tribunal, warns the country could explode if its members are charged. The governing coalition backs the tribunal.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – Lebanese, especially their political leaders, should stop using a “language of defiance and rejection of others”. They must instead act with “wisdom” to “built bridges between citizens” and “find political, economic and social solutions that reduce tensions,” Lebanon’s Maronite bishops said in a statement. This comes at a time of heightening tensions between Hizbollah, dead set on boycotting the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and openly accusing anyone working with the tribunal of high treason, and the 14 March forces, including Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who support the UN-backed body.

International circles view the current situation in Lebanon as highly explosive. At present, no one knows what effect talks between the ambassadors of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran on Tuesday will have. All three countries back opposing Lebanese factions.

Maronite bishops made their appeal in this context at the end of their monthly meeting chaired by Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir, yesterday at the Patriarch’s Residence in Bkerke.

In their press release, the prelates focused on the conclusions of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. The latter’s recommendations will be applied in parishes as well as in religious institutions.

The emphasis will three-fold, namely “deepening our Christian identity and message in the East, strengthening ties of the ecclesial communion and bearing Christian witness in the spiritual and social fields, and within our societies.”

The concerns expressed by the bishops are also reflected in a press release issued by the 14 March alliance, which refers to a “terror campaign against Lebanese through an appeal to boycott the Special Tribunal for Lebanon and the international investigation” into the 2005 attack that killed former PM Rafik Hariri and 22 other people. It also mentions “accusations of treason against those who work with the tribunal as well as daily focus on catastrophic scenarios about the final and total strangulation of the country.”

The reference here is to Hizbollah, whose deputy chief, Sheikh Naim Qassem, warned on Tuesday that any charges against Hizbullah members would be "equivalent to lighting the fuse” and “igniting the wick for an explosion."

Lebanon’s prime minister, Saad Hariri, son of the assassinated prime minister, said he was 100 per cent behind the tribunal. (PD)

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See also
Beirut is calm (for now) following arrest warrants against Hizbollah members
As Lebanon’s government collapses, the country’s stability is endangered
Tensions rise in Lebanon over possible Hizbollah involvement in Hariri assassination
The special tribunal, mirror and answer for Lebanese society’s ills
Maronite bishops say new solutions needed to end crisis


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