BEIRUT: The dismantling of a contested building in the Chouf marks a significant step in reconciliation efforts between Christians and Druze in the country, Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt said Friday following a meeting with Cardinal Beshara Rai.
“When the Patriarch [Beshara] Rai visited us in the Chouf last summer, we promised him we would work on healing an old wound left behind by the painful Chouf events,” Jumblatt told reporters at Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite Church in Lebanon.
“Yesterday [Thursday], violations on Christian lands in Brih were removed, sealing all the wounds from the Chouf war,” he added, referring to the Druze-built municipal center that was located on land belonging to the Maronite Church and Christian residents.
In 2010, Jumblatt and President Michel Sleiman signed a reconciliation protocol which included the dismantling of the municipal center in the village of Brih.
In 2001, a historic visit by former Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir to the Chouf region marked the beginning of what was dubbed the "Reconciliation of the Mountain," as it sought to bring together Christians and Druze who fought against each other in the 1980s, during the Lebanese Civil War.
The fighting forced many Christians to leave their homes.
Last year, Rai met with Jumblatt in a bid to cement the reconciliation process launched by his predecessor. During the September visit in September, Rai said that in order to complete the reconciliation process, all the displaced needed to return to their hometowns without exception.
Several other villages in Aley and Baabda await similar reconciliation processes.