BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea has strongly denounced attacks targeting Christians in Iraq and Syria, calling on Muslim leaders to act quickly to counter rampant fanaticism sweeping the region.
“News of aggressions perpetrated against Christians and their churches and convents in Iraq and Syria make our hearts bleed, because civilizations planted in the land at the hands of Jesus’ first disciples long centuries ago are being uprooted,” Geagea said in a statement Monday.
He said the LF, which has a history of confronting injustice and oppression, “strongly condemns” aggression against Christians, and “appeals to all good people from all religions, especially Muslims, to confront extremism in all its forms, whether it is perpetrated by groups or the regimes that stand behind them.”
Geagea, whose LF militia fought in Lebanon’s civil war on behalf of Christians, stressed that “combatting terrorism, be it state terrorism or by groups, is the responsibility of all, in particular [those who are part of] moderate Islam, which reflects the civilized image of Muslims."
He called for concentrated efforts to achieve coexistence and understanding between civilizations “for the sake of ensuring a better future for the next generations and prevent displacement and immigration threatening us all.”
Hundreds of Christian families have fled northern Iraq after the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), which weeks ago gained control of large swathes of land in the area, gave them an ultimatum to convert to Islam, pay an extra religious tax or face persecution.