ASIA/LEBANON - President Aoun receives criticism after his thanks to the Russian "protection" of Christians in the Middle East

Wednesday, 3 April 2019 middle east   oriental churches   geopolitics   islam   dialogue  


Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - The gratitude expressed recently by Lebanese President Michel Aoun to Russian President Vladimir Putin also for the support always offered by Russia to Christian communities in the Middle East is raising a controversial public debate in Lebanon. The words of thanks addressed by Aoun to Putin and Russia on March 26, during his visit to Moscow, sparked criticism from groups and individual political representatives of different backgrounds, relaunched by the Lebanese media.
The Rassemblement Saydet el-Jabal, a cultural association founded to promote the culture of coexistence between Christians and Muslims, although without explicitly naming Aoun, issued a statement yesterday to emphasize that "The protection of Christians can only take place by living together with Muslims, not through search for ambiguous protections". Saydet el Jabal recalled the various initiatives put in place to identify areas of active coexistence between Christians and Muslims, also mentioning the visit of Pope Francis to Morocco and the declaration signed by the Pope and the King of Morocco with the request to protect Jerusalem as a city open to all religions. Farès Souhaid, President of Saydet el Jabal, had already criticized President Aoun's thanks to Putin on March 29th. "Aoun" wrote Fares Souhaid "is President of Lebanon and is asked to protect the Lebanese".
Even Christian George Sabra, President of the Syrian National Council (anti-Assad Syrian opposition group) criticized Aoun's thanks to Putin. "The Christians in the East who brought Christianity to the whole world" Sabra wrote in his twitter account "do not need anyone's protection. They are in their land, among the children of their country, with whom they share the same values". Similar criticisms regarding Aoun's thanks to the role of the Russians in the Middle East were expressed by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, at the head of the Progressive Socialist Party. "It seems that some people", Jumblatt wrote via twitter "do not want to learn lessons and experiences from the past and its tragedies. We need to focuse on the importance of citizenship and the joint declaration of Abu Dhabi between the Pope and the Great Imam of Al-Azhar".
During the meeting with Putin, which took place on Tuesday 26 March, President Aoun - as reported by Agenzia Fides (see Fides, 28/3/2019) - had invited the Russian President to visit Lebanon. During his visit to the Russian capital, the Lebanese head of State also expressed negative judgments about US President Donald Trump's decision to recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan, defining this move as a violation of international law that regulates the boundaries between the States. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 3/4/2019)