Lebanon News

Jumblatt calls for preserving religious diversity in Tripoli

Srouj speaks with other library owners in Tripoli.

BEIRUT: Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt called Tuesday for preserving religious diversity in Tripoli, days after a historic library owned by a Greek Orthodox priest was attacked by unknown assailants in the northern city.

Jumblatt also demanded an investigation into the attack, which raised sectarian tensions in the war-ravaged city.

“Statements of condemnation are no longer sufficient to save the city of Tripoli from the bloody conflicts, wars of attrition and political, economic and social problems it is going through ... It looks as if what is required is the destruction of this plurality and [religious] diversity which are landmarks of this struggling Arab city,” Jumblatt said in his weekly article published in the PSP’s online Al-Anbaa newspaper.

“Although it is necessary to strongly denounce the barbaric act against the Al-Saeh Library in Tripoli, simply voicing another condemnation is not the best way to address the city’s issues,” he added.

Assailants last week torched Al-Saeh Library, known as the Traveler’s Library, owned by Greek Orthodox priest Rev. Ibrahim Srouj, destroying two-thirds of its 80,000 books and manuscripts.

The attack came after rumors circulated in Tripoli, Lebanon’s second largest city, that Srouj wrote an article published on the Internet insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammad.

Srouj dismissed such rumors, while political and religious figures defended him and mobilized to prevent renewal of tensions in the city, which was rattled last year by off-and-on fierce clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad, leaving several people dead.

Lawmakers and politicians in and outside Tripoli described the incident as an attempt to incite strife in the city.

“What about the information about a project to replace the Al-Saeh Library after destroying it, which is allegedly the reason for the attack?” Jumblatt asked.

“This requires a transparent investigation to achieve concrete results and punish all those involved,” the PSP chief said, adding: “The interest of the nation and that of Tripoli call for preserving the diversity of this ancient city.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 08, 2014, on page 4.




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