BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai asked religious institutions to avoid employing non-Christian foreign labor to prevent a repeat of the events of last week in which a 28-year old woman was murdered by a Syrian national working in a church in Sahel Alma.
“We ask officials of monasteries, religious Christian institutions, in a bid to preserve their sanctity, inviolability and message, not to entrust their protection to non-Christian foreigners or house them,” Rai told a Mass in Bkirki in honor of Myriam Ashkar, killed last week by Fathi Jabr al-Salateen, a janitor at the church Ashkar was visiting, after he attempted to rape her.
Ashkar, whose body was recovered after a day-long search and rescue operation by the army and Internal Security Forces, was stabbed at least eight times in her chest and suffered other injuries
Salateen, who has confessed to the crime, is also suspected of having been a member in a Syrian intelligence unit in Lebanon and having quit his post several years ago, sources told The Daily Star.
“We ask security and judicial officials to protect Lebanese and to apply the most severe form of punishment upon the criminal,” Rai said to the crowd, which included Ashkar’s family members and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel.
He also asked the Internal Security Forces to take good care of the security of citizens and protect them against any threats.
The patriarch also asked unions and workers to implement necessary laws governing foreign labor, voicing appreciation for foreigners who are genuinely working in the country.
Rai also touched upon the controversial issue of funding the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, which is scheduled to be discussed in Cabinet Wednesday.
“We regret that there is reluctance to comply with international legitimacy especially concerning the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” Rai said, warning of repercussions for Lebanon if Cabinet fails to pay the country’s $36 million share of the court’s annual budget.
The majority in the Cabinet, Hezbollah and its allies, reject the tribunal all together, while the prime minister and the president say Lebanon should commit to its international obligations.