Saudi media on Card Raï’s visit.: Fraternity and peace in the shadow of the Hariri affair
The first visit by a Christian leader to the ultra-conservative kingdom echoed in the local media. Some published a photo that clearly shows the cross, which is usually forbidden to show in public. The commentators insist on fraternal relations between the two countries and the role of religions in the perspective of peace and extremism. But the knot of the "kidnapping" and resignation of the Lebanese premier remains.
Beirut (AsiaNews / OLJ) - The historic visit of Maronite Patriarch Bechara Raï to Riyadh, the first for a Christian leader to the ultraconservative Wahhabi kingdom, has had a great deal of echo in local media, accompanied by lots of photos. The main newspapers emphasize the "fraternal" relationship that binds the two countries, as well as "the importance of religions and cultures" against extremism. However, the clamour and celebrations are overshadowed by the controversial story regarding the resignation of Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, considered to be under "Saudi seizure".
The images that accompany the articles are of great symbolic value: the most popular photo of in Arabian newspapers is that of the Cardinal intent in discussion with King Salman, his pectoral Cross clearly visible on his chest. It is no small matter, if one considers that every element that invokes a religion other than Islam is forbidden and vigorously punished by the laws of the land.
Al-Hayat, in the Saudi local edition, along with al-Yaum, ash-Sharq al-Awsat and Arab News have chosen this image as symbolic of the visit to be published on the front page. Al-Riyad and Okaz, along with the "liberal" Saudi Gazette instead opted for an image of King Salman and Card. Raï about to shake hands. The latter without Christian symbols being visible.
Apart from the opportunity offered to readers, all major newspapers and media in Saudi Arabia have insisted on issues such as fraternity between the two countries, both at the government and the society level. This in addition to insisting on the role of religions in the perspective of peace and security.
For the Okaz daily, the presence of what is called the "Lebanese Leader" strengthened the "fraternal relations" between Riyadh and Beirut. It also stressed "the importance of religions and cultures in the consolidation of tolerance, rejection of violence, extremism and terrorism".
One of the terms most used by Saudi reporters and commentators is "tolerance", a principle on which Saudi leadership intends to insist and revive strongly, offering it to the general public. Al-Riyadh dedicates a lot of attention to the visit of the cardinal and to the meetings with King Salman and the hereditary Prince Mohammed bin Salman (Mbs). And in titles, he insists on words such as "fraternal relations," "consolidation of tolerance," and "fight against terrorism."
Finally, there are two newspapers such as ash-Sharq al-Awsat and Arab News that talk about Card. Raï’s visit in relation to the controversial allegation of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri. The former launches an elaborate title: "Raï announces his support for the motivations that led to Hariri's resignation." While the second emphasizes the (alleged) ayatollah threat behind his decision: "The patriarch supports Hariri in reference to Iranian interference in Lebanon." Behind the statements of façade and the "friendship" relations between Lebanon and Saudi Arabia lie all the tensions and problems that are likely to inflame the Middle East even more.