BEIRUT: President Michel Sleiman condemned Tuesday the recent abduction of Father Walid Gharious who was released Monday hours after having been snatched at gunpoint in Baalbek, east Lebanon.
"[Sleiman] condemned the kidnapping ... and said that this kind of action is unacceptable given that it restores one of the Civil War’s ugliest images and presents a model that provokes feelings and reactions at a time when Lebanon still enjoys security and stability,” Sleiman’s press office quoted him as saying.
He also stressed on the importance of arresting perpetrators to prevent similar incidents in the future and in order to consolidate civil peace and coexistence.
Gharious was kidnapped Monday and delivered a few hours later to Sheikh Momahhad Yazbeck, the head of Hezbollah’s Shura Council.
He was snatched at gunpoint on the Ansar road in Baalbek over an issue of a young woman who converted to Christianity, security sources told The Daily Star Monday.
Sources said that the atmosphere became very tense in Baalbek after Gharious was kidnapped over an issue regarding a young woman named Banin Qataya, who is the daughter of a Shiite cleric in the region.
According to the sources, the kidnappers believed Gharious knew the whereabouts of Qataya, who had converted to Christianity and left her parents’ house almost three years ago after falling victim to torture and mistreatment over her conversion.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, in a telephone conversation with Sleiman, also denounced the kidnapping.
According to Geagea’s press office, the LF leader asked security agencies to follow up on the issue given the "dangerous implications of the act that could undermine coexistence in the Bekaa region in particular and Lebanon in general and threatening national unity and civil peace.”