BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai condemned the twin car bombs in the northern city of Tripoli Sunday, saying he holds officials and rival political leaders responsible for the country’s deteriorating security situation.
“We strongly condemn the horrible explosions in Tripoli, the capital's north, on Friday which killed innocent citizens, more than 45 of them, and wounded some 500 not to mention the ensued material damage,” Rai said during his Sunday sermon in Diman, north Lebanon.
The twin car bombs that targeted two mosques in Tripoli came days after a car bomb ripped through the neighborhood of Ruwais in Beirut’s southern suburbs that left 30 people dead.
Rai saluted the youth in Tripoli and Beirut’s southern suburbs and civil society groups who have embarked on reconstruction projects to help families return to their damaged homes.
The patriarch called on residents of both Tripoli and Ruwais to “be alert and patient” and commit to the principle of national unity and support the Army and security agencies as the only legitimate side capable of protecting anyone.
“No Lebanese seeks to exchange [the protection of the state] with self-protection which is rejected by everyone,” Rai said, referring to calls by some Salafist sheikhs to implement their own security measures in Tripoli.
Rai also slammed rival parties for obstructing the process of forming a new government under Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and for placing conditions on their return to the national dialogue table.
“Those who disrupt the formation of a new government, paralyze Parliament and daily life should realize that they are responsible for the lack of security, the proliferation of illegitimate arms and the transport of rigged cars from one area to another,” he added.
Rai said politicians have a responsibility to remove Lebanon from the “axis of regional and confessional conflicts, its international affiliations and free Lebanon from its dependency on foreign decisions and not tie its fate to events in Syria and others.”
He said “condemnations were not enough,” but those responsible should respond to President Michel Sleiman’s call to resume national dialogue and facilitate the formation of a new Cabinet.
Rai also touched on the conditions of Christians in Egypt, denouncing repeated attacks on churches there.
“In Egypt, what does it mean to attack the Christian's churches?” he asked.
“They have burned 73 churches,” Rai noted, saying that Christians in Egypt have resided for over 1,000 years.
“Copts are some of the original inhabitants of Egypt who have contributed to Egypt’s culture and civilizations more than others,” he said, adding that the state should ensure their full rights and protect them and their properties against “radical attackers.”