Lebanon News

Gemayel urges guiding charter for the Arab Spring

Kataeb leader Amine Gemayel speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, Oct. 20, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

BEIRUT: The Arab League should produce a guiding charter to correct the “vague” and “dangerous” course of Arab uprisings and protect minorities, Kataeb (Phalange) Party leader Amin Gemayel said Thursday.

“We refuse that Christians in Egypt or any other Arab state pay the price of the struggle between the East and the West, between regimes and revolutions and between moderation and extremism,” Gemayel told a news conference to brief reporters on his recent visit to Egypt. The country saw deadly clashes between Coptic Christians and the Egyptian army earlier this month.

“The Christians of Lebanon and the East are not scapegoats for any side and the time has come to protect their presence” through legislation that treats them as equals, he said.

Gemayel urged the Arab League to lay down a charter by which revolutions commit to democracy and the respect of all components of Arab society.

“I proposed to the [Arab League] Secretary General that the Arab League hold a closed seminar embracing academicians and elites from various Arab countries to discuss these ideas and come up with the charter.”

During his stay in Egypt, Gemayel held talks with Qatar’s Prime Minister Hamad bin Jassim Bin Jaber al-Thani, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Amr, Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi, Coptic Pope Shenouda III and Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb, the head of Cairo’s Al-Azhar.

Gemayel warned that his visit to Egypt came as popular movements in the Arab world “are passing through a dangerous phase.”

“Not only because of the oppression of the regimes but because of vagueness which surrounds the course of these revolutions,” he added.

Asked whether Lebanon should recognize the opposition Syrian National Council, he declined to discuss the “particularities” of Syria. “There is no single party representing the opposition and revolutionaries in Syria, there are several sides inside and outside [Syria],” he said. “Let’s wait until the opposition has a unified stance … and wait for efforts made by the Arab League and in light of this we will have a stance.”

Gemayel said it was “natural” for Syrian Christians to be involved in their country’s uprising against President Bashar Assad.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 21, 2011, on page 2.

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