Akkar (Agenzia Fides) - A Lebanese judge ordered two Muslim young men who insulted Christianity to memorize verses from the Quran’s Al-Omran surah which glorifies Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ. The sentence, ordered by judge Jocelyne Matta, was praised by Lebanese Muslim leaders and said her decision paves way towards innovative judicial approaches that help resolve social problems and religious intolerance.
The two young men, Muslim students of the technical school of Mounjez (a village inhabited mostly by Christians, in the region of Akkar), had entered a church a few days ago and carried out offensive gestures towards a statue of the Virgin Mary. The two boys had also filmed their sacrilegious act, and had spread it among their peers through social media. The police arrested them, and the judicial bodies decided to establish the punishment to be imposed promptly, also to prevent the outbreak of new sectarian conflicts. The Judge, Jocelyne Matta, in charge of the case, during the hearing on Thursday 8 February decided to give the two students a lesson of Islamic religious culture, rather than resort to prison sentences. In the trial, Matta read the Quran’s Al-Omran surah, and instead of handing down a prison sentence over their contempt of religion, she ordered the men to memorize the verses. The judge's proposal was approved and notified by the Tribunal of Tripoli. Before being released, the two defendants expressed repentance for the action carried out.
"Recourse to this type of rehabilitative sentence" says to Agenzia Fides, Maronite priest, Rouphael Zgheib, national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Lebanon, "expresses a new orientation in the practice of Lebanese justice, and represents an application of article 111 of the Penal Code, which authorizes the investigating judge to replace the detention of a defendant with any other measure deemed more appropriate and effective. The judge realized that the boys did not know anything about the Quran, despite being Muslims, and chose that kind of sentence in order to teach them to respect their own religion as well as the faiths of those who are not Muslims".
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri commended the move on social media and saluted Matta for her decision which reflects justice and teaches mutual concepts between Muslims and Christians. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 12/2/2018)