BEIRUT: Islamist fundamentalist groups in Syria and Iraq contradict the values of Islam, Maronite bishops said Wednesday, while urging international actors to put an end to the tragedy.
“[We] strongly condemn all the forms of discrimination, abuse, displacement and murder by the terrorist takfiri groups who exploit religion to serve interests and plans that have no link to the well-known Islamic religious values,” the bishops said in a statement after meeting in the Maronite patriarch’s summer seat in Diman.
The bishops went on to “demand the international community, the United Nations and the Security Council make the required arrangements to put an end to the tragic situation [in the Middle East].”
The statement said that the extremist groups’ crimes should not be perceived from a merely humanitarian angle, because they included depriving people their right of citizenship and freedom of religion, and distorted the common history between communities.
The bishops’s statement also covered internal political affairs, condemning the Parliament’s delays of the presidential election.
“[We] repeat [our] call to the representatives of the nation, and we insist on the necessity to commit to the constitution’s content,” the statement said.
“The president of Lebanon is the president of all Lebanese and the guardian of the nation’s unity,” the statement added, “and his election is the essential door to all other suspended files.”
Repeating their total support for the state’s security forces, the statement said that the Army and security agencies “have proven during all stages that they are driven by a patriotic spirit that is too strong to be manipulated by any streams.”
Condemning some recent “irresponsible practices” committed to increasing sectarian tension by attacking religious symbols, the Maronite figures congratulated “the Sunni sect in Lebanon” for the election of the new Grand Mufti Abdel-Latif Derian.
Hailing the latter’s moderate speech, the bishops said it “reflects the tolerant image of Islam, and personalizes the spiritual Lebanese experience [in coexistence].”
“All the Lebanese, Christians and Muslims, urgently need such stands during this era,” their statement said.
The Maronite clerics also touched on the conflicts between the workers union and employers, in a reference to the EDL standoff.
“The priests expressed their concern over the dimensions taken by the workers’ demands,” they said. “They believe that the way in which the matter is handled is increasing complications, threatening the functioning of the institutions.”
“Matters of this size are not resolved through insisting on tensed stands, but through awareness and patience,” the bishops said, calling for innovative solutions that neither violate the general order nor distort the image of Lebanon.