02/12/2018, 17.01
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Teenagers who desecrated a statue of Our Lady required to learn the Qurʾān as punishment

In one Surah, Mary is described as one of God’s purest creatures. This is the first time that a judge imposes a "pedagogical" sentence. Political and religious leaders praise the ruling.

Beirut (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A Lebanese court has sentenced two teenagers to the study of the Qurʾān in order to learn what the sacred text says about Our Lady.

Judge Jocelyne Matta convicted two young Muslims, aged 17 and 18, for desecrating a statue of the Virgin in their village, Akkar district, northern Lebanon.

Ten days ago, the duo went inside a church in their predominantly Christian village, where they threw the statue to the ground, kiss it and carried out lewd acts. The two recorded their stunt, and posted it on WhatsApp.

Alerted, the police eventually took them into custody and brought them before a prosecutor, who turned them over to a magistrate.

Faced with the case, the judge cited a surah (a chapter in the Qurʾān), ‘The family of Imran’, in which Mary is defined as one of God’s purest creatures. She ruled that the two teenagers had to read, learn, and recite the verses in question.

The accused were later seen in the courthouse in Tripoli trying to learn the sacred passages in front of juvenile officers under close police watch. After purging their “sentence", they expressed their remorse to the magistrate.

This is the first time that a Lebanese judge issued a "pedagogical" ruling rather than impose a prison sentence, taking advantage of article 111 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which authorises examining magistrates to replace a custodial sentence with a commensurate one.

The decision was welcomed in various political and religious circles. Prime Minister Saad Hariri described the ruling on twitter as “a summit in justice and teaching common concepts between Muslims and Christians”.

Speaking to Lebanese French-language daily L’Orient le Jour, Mgr Georges Abou Jaoudé, Maronite bishop of Tripoli, praised the decision because "it raises awareness among young people, whose behaviour often shows ignorance."

As a way to encourage outreach among the new generations, the bishop and the mufti of Tripoli, Sheikh Malek Chaar, have set up an inter-religious commission.

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