BEIRUT: Lebanon's Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani called Wednesday for the release of a group of nuns who were seized by rebels in the ancient town of Maaloula, north of the Syrian capital.
In a statement, Qabbani denounced “the criminal kidnapping of nuns in Maaloula in Syria.”
He also warned against dragging Christians into the region’s conflicts and targeting Christian figures and holy sites, saying “foreign powers” could use such acts as a pretext to intervene in the Middle East.
Qabbani called for "the immediate release of the two bishops [Boulos Yazigi and Yohanna Ibrahim] and the nuns in Maaloula because their abduction and mistreatment contradict the manners and teachings of Islam in treating monks and nuns, particularly during periods of wars and conflicts.”
On Tuesday, the Vatican’s ambassador to Syria said rebel fighters moved a dozen nuns and three female helpers from the ancient town of Maaloula to the nearby town of Yabroud, but it wasn’t clear if they had been kidnapped or evacuated for their safety.
Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim has been kidnapped by armed men in April while en route to Aleppo from the Turkish border.