BEIRUT: Kataeb leader Amin Gemayel used his speech at a conference in Turkey Friday to warn against the remnants of toppled autocratic regimes as well as religious fundamentalist elements, saying that both seek to create dictatorships in the Middle East.
He also urged Muslims and Christians to forge a true partnership in state and society throughout the Middle East.
Gemayel, a former president of Lebanon, warned against “[both] sleeper and active cells in the Arab world, represented by [remnants] of the old authoritarian powers as well as fundamentalist forces, that threaten to impose a new regime of dictatorship.”
His remarks came during an international conference in Ankara, Turkey, titled, “The Arab Spring and Peace in the Middle East: the Christian and Muslim Visions."
“Muslims and Christians should transcend dialogue about their differences and reach the point of true partnership in state and society,” Gemayel said, adding that this would eliminate all forms of extremism.
The conference was attended by Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well as Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani and Bishop Bulos Sayyah, representing Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai.
Amid the warnings came a hint of optimism. Gemayel said that some of the centers of politico-cultural power and authority in the Middle East have signaled their openness to new democratic trends.
“The peaceful religious and political authorities are leaning toward accepting the democratic movement in the Arab world,” he said.
During his speech in the Turkish capital, Gemayel said that common principles between Christians and Muslims should be mined in order to strengthen democracy, freedom and diversity in the Middle East.
But he called for redoubled efforts to disseminate such values in the Arab world, so as to establish real peace in the region among nations and religions.