ASIA/LEBANON - The Maronite Patriarch: Arab identity of the Lebanese nation is not negotiable

Tuesday, 23 February 2016 local churches  


Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Rai expressed his full support to the recent statement with which the Lebanese government wanted to reaffirm that the Arab identity of Lebanon cannot be questioned. Responding to journalists who approached him at the airport of Beirut, the Primate of the Maronite Church said he was in favor of everything that recognizes and reaffirms the Arabness of Lebanon, also enshrined in the Constitution.
Behind the initiative of the Lebanese government one understands the game under way between the regional powers of Iran and Saudi Arabia to assert its strong position in the Middle East area. Saudi Arabia blocked two-thirds of the loan of two billion dollars promised to the army of Lebanon, after distancing itself from the Saudi leadership expressed by the Shiite party of Hezbollah and from the Lebanese Foreign Minister, Maronite Gebran Bassil .
The reaffirmation of the Arab identity of Lebanon has the aim to overcome the diplomatic problems with Riyadh, showing that Lebanon has no intention of appearing as a supporter of the increasingly apparent strengthening of Iran with regards to the regional and international scenarios. Yesterday Sunni Saad Hariri, leader of the "Future" party, called on all Lebanese to express their support to Saudi Arabia and to give thanks for the aid it promised to the Lebanese armed forces. "But in this scenario of pressure and power games" said Maronite priest Rouphael Zgheib, National Director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon, "it should be noted that the Arab identity of Lebanon is recognized and affirmed in the Constitution. Lebanon is and will remain an Arab nation for culture and language. When Patriarch Rai repeats this, he does nothing but represent the conscience of the nation, and does not enter into the logic of political or geopolitical alignment". (GV) (Agenzia Fides 23/02/2016)