Lebanon News

Harb says willing to join suit against anti-Islam filmmakers

MP Butros Harb speaks during a press conference in Hazmieh, Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: March 14 coalition MP Butros Harb said Tuesday that he would be willing to join with other lawyers to file a lawsuit against the makers of a film that insults Islam’s Prophet Mohammad, describing the film’s content as harmful to coexistence.

“I am willing to participate in filing a lawsuit against the filmmakers,” Harb, a lawyer, said in a news conference at his office in Hazmieh, southeast of Beirut.

He added that the film, which was produced in the U.S., harms not only Islam but also “all celestial religions, the Arab Spring and the formula of coexistence.”

“Resorting to protests is justified, but the optimal solution is via a legal framework,” he said, referring to the series of demonstrations organized by Hezbollah this week against the movie.

Harb also touched on the debate over a new electoral law for the 2013 parliamentary elections, criticizing the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) for allegedly turning against the proposal agreed on by Christian parties.

March 14 Christian parties and the FPM have been trading accusations over who backtracked on the agreement reached via the Bkirki Committee, tasked by the Maronite Church with drafting a law that best guarantees proper Christian representation in Parliament.

Two MPs from Michel Aoun’s Change and Reform parliamentary bloc forwarded to Parliament earlier this month a draft election law by which every sect elects its own MPs in a system that also incorporates proportional representation. The proposal is similar to a draft law prepared by the Orthodox Gathering and rejected by predominantly Muslim parties.

March 14 Christian parliamentarians endorse a proposal – which they maintain is also preferred by the Bkirki Committee – that divides Lebanon into 61 districts in a winner-take-all system.

“The election formula that has the highest number of Christian parliamentarians being elected by Christian voters is the one with small districts of three MPs each, resulting in 57 out of 64 Christian deputies being elected by Christian votes,” Harb said.

“We were surprised that the Christian parties in the March 8 alliance agreed to a system of 13 districts and proportional representation,” he added.

Last month, the Cabinet approved a draft law that would divide the country into 13 medium-sized districts with MPs chosen by proportional representation. March 14 spoke out against the draft law, saying it was designed to serve the interests of Hezbollah.

Harb also said that the FPM should “choose between a law based on small districts guaranteeing the best representation of Christians and another that leave Christians with fewer than 50 MPs elected by Christian voters.”

In his news conference, he also said that the investigation into his attempted assassination has ground to a halt, after Hezbollah allegedly refused to hand over a suspect.

“The investigation into this assassination attempt has stopped because Hezbollah refused to hand over the suspect,” Harb said, reiterating his demand that the resistance group change course on the matter.

On June 5, two detonators were found in an elevator in a building that houses Harb’s office in Badaro. The perpetrators fled the area when a resident of the building grew suspicious.

Police have reportedly identified two suspects but were not able to make any arrests. One of the suspects allegedly has ties with Hezbollah, which has denied any connection to the attempted killing.





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