BEIRUT: Christians’ concerns over their presence in the Middle East are justified, said Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani Thursday, as he urged the release of the kidnapped nuns and bishops in Syria.
“Christians’ fears nowadays over their presence and their dignity in the Middle East are right and justified especially as they watch on television their nuns and bishops getting kidnapped and their religious symbols destroyed,” the mufti said during a ceremony for Dar al-Fatwa.
Qabbani said that attacking Christian symbols is rejected in Islam and that Muslims should respect the churches, symbols and rituals of Christians.
He said some actions against Christians in the region contradict the Islamic traditions and principles and urged action over the kidnapping of bishops and nuns in Syria.
“All Muslim officials, whether kings, princes, or presidents, should save Islam from the aggression of some Muslims against Christian nuns and bishops and exert serious efforts to secure their release,” he said.
The mufti was referring to the nuns who were seized by rebels and forced to evacuate their convent in Maaloula early last month and to the April kidnapping of Aleppo’s Greek Orthodox Archbishop Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Yohanna Ibrahim by Syrian rebels.
The mufti also warned against Sunni-Shiite strife citing the weekend clash between two families in Western Bekaa that led to the killing of six people.
“Why are you killing each other? Why are you sacrificing your sons and loved ones and accepting to have them in coffins? Do you know where you are going? Wake up Sunnis, Wake up Shiites. Beware of fighting against each other,” he warned.
He also said that Sunni-Shiite clashes are the result of the officials’ rhetoric and their challenging each other.