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Lebanon News

Lebanese Christian-Muslim summit slams anti-Islam film

Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani arrives to attend a Muslim-Christian summit in Bkirki, Monday, Sept. 24, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: A Christian-Muslim summit convening in Bkirki condemned Monday a recent film that insults the Prophet Mohammad and said an offense to one religion was an assault on all others.

“The participants denounced ‘Innocence of Muslims’ that insults Islam and its prophet and messenger Mohammad ... They stressed that violating the sanctity of any religion is a violation to all religions,” a statement issued following meeting said

Participants at the summit included the heads of the Muslim and Christian sects in the country, including Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, Deputy head of the Higher Shiite Islamic Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabala and Druze spiritual leader Sheikh Naim Hasan.

The meeting was headed by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.

Prior to opening the session, Rai told reporters “Innocence of Muslims” – a film that originated in the U.S. and insults the Prophet Mohammad – was offensive to Christians “as well as to every other religion” and said action was needed at the U.N. level to ban such acts.

“A resolution must be adopted at the international level to prevent the insult to religions,” Rai said.

Rai has repeatedly called on the United Nations to issue a resolution on the film, which sparked a wave of sometimes violent protests against U.S. and foreign embassies.

While criticizing the summit, those gathered at Bkirki also denounced the “violent reactions that led to innocent casualties and harm to Christians and places of worship in a number of countries.”

The summit members called for Arab and international action to end attempts of insulting religions.

“They called on the United Nations, the Arab League and all relevant associations to take resolutions to curtail the misuse of the freedom of expression and preventing insults to religions and their sacred symbols and the damage this causes to Muslim-Christian relations,” the statement said.

The participants at Bkirki agreed to set up a legal committee made of experts in international law to work on a proposed draft and to look into measures of protecting “monotheistic religions from insults and harm under [the threat] of legal action.”

The summit also discussed the Apostolic Exhortation for the Middle East which was signed by Pope Benedict XVI during a visit to Beirut in mid-September.

The final statement said the gathering voiced relief and appreciation over the pontiff’s “historical visit to Lebanon that came at the right timing.”

They agreed that the pope’s message to the Lebanese was first and foremost a reminder that their country represented a space for “interaction and dialogue, and not an arena for conflict.”

“Despite the Lebanese internal situation and the concern over the regional changes, the pope still believes that Lebanon holds a historical and civilized message to the whole world,” said the statement.

The gathering also agreed on conveying the pope’s message to spiritual leaders in other Arab countries and stressed the need for both Christians and Muslims to remain in their land and confront migration that causes the country “to lose its finest youth.”

During his visit to Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI called for Christians and Muslims to unite against violence. He also called for an end to the supply of arms to both sides in the civil war raging in Syria.

 

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