BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Authorities dismiss threats against Christians in the Bekaa

Lebanese army soldiers on their military vehicles enter the Sunni Muslim border town of Arsal, in eastern Bekaa Valley March 19, 2014. (REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah)

BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities Thursday dismissed threats by a shadowy militant group against churches in the Bekaa Valley as bogus, a security source told The Daily Star.

The so-called Free Sunni Brigades in Baalbek is nothing more than a group with a Twitter account, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said.

“Security forces do not take this group seriously ... but the nationwide security plan inherently provides reinforcements outside places of worship,” the source added.

Earlier in the day, the group said on its Twitter feed that they have designated a special group of jihadists to "cleanse the Muslim Bekaa Emirate in particular, and Lebanon in general, from churches."

It also urged Sunnis to keep their distances from churches, vowing to destroy all Christian symbols in the region.

The Archbishop of the Greek Catholic diocese of Zahle and Forzol, Issam Darwish, said the threats were not taken seriously but that Bekaa residents should remain cautious and alert.

"Everyone who knows history knows that Christians and Muslims have lived together in peace in this area,” Darwish told a local television channel.

“The security forces have started taking security measures to protect churches and other Christian places of worship,” he said, in reference to the previously implemented security plan.

 

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