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Lebanon’s Muslim officials sign petition against Christian exodus

Displaced Iraqi Christians, who fled the violence in the city of Mosul, sit outside the St. Joseph church as they took refuge in Irbil, August 20, 2014. (AFP/Ahmad al-Rubaye)

BEIRUT: Muslim Lebanese officials signed a petition Friday to condemn the assault on Christians of the region, calling on religious figures, political heads, civil society and the international community to mobilize efforts to restore the rights and property of assaulted Christians.

The exodus of Christians from their cities and villages is an “unjust aggression” that violated the "sanctity of their Churches," the petition said.

In further condemnation, the petition said the assault against Christians “constitutes a crime against humanity and a [crime] against religion and the nation.”

Mohammad al-Sammak, the secretary-general of the Islamic Spiritual Summit in Lebanon, organized the petition, which was signed by Speaker Nabih Berri, former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk and Sidon MP Bahia Hariri, alongside several other ministers and lawmakers.

The Islamic Spiritual Summit represents members from the Shiite, Sunni and Druze sects in Lebanon.

Through the petition, Sammak called on Islamic groups to denounce both the crimes as well as the actors committing them.

He also appealed to Islamic religious references in the Arab World in order to free Islam from “the grip of its captors.”

Sammak called on Arab governments to assume “ethical and constitutional responsibility toward its citizens” who have fallen prey to groups that don’t know the “sanctity of humanity and the holiness of religion.”

The statement urged civil society actors to offer necessary humanitarian aid to Christians, while pressing allied states to refrain from facilitating the emigration of the region’s Christians, arguing that such a move would serve the terrorist goal of tearing up the versatile social fabric in the Arab world.

Appealing to the Islamic Cooperation Council and the Arab League, Sammak urged both organizations to cooperate with the United Nations and the Security Council, as to launch a joint international initiative to ward off “the dangerous terrorist” threat.

 

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Summary

Muslim Lebanese officials signed a petition Friday to condemn the assault on Christians of the region, calling on religious figures, political heads, civil society and the international community to mobilize efforts to restore the rights and property of assaulted Christians.

The statement urged civil society actors to offer necessary humanitarian aid to Christians, while pressing allied states to refrain from facilitating the emigration of the region's Christians, arguing that such a move would serve the terrorist goal of tearing up the versatile social fabric in the Arab world.


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