ASIA/LEBANON - Patriarch Younan criticizes the exclusion of Syrian Christians from public functions and administrative positions

Wednesday, 18 September 2019 middle east   oriental churches   politics   sectaniarism   religious minorities

Beirut (Agenzia Fides) - In Lebanon - a country where the distribution of political and institutional offices follows criteria of division based on religious affiliation - Christians belonging to the Syro-Orthodox and Syro-Catholic Church are marginalized or excluded from functions and public offices. Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan stressed this again, in statements released by the local media. The Patriarch's critical considerations were inspired by recent appointments approved by the Council of Ministers, concerning significant roles in institutions such as the Court of Auditors. In selecting the persons to be assigned to such positions - the Patriarch points out - the candidates who belonged to the two minority Christian communities were still excluded. "After seeing that our youthful energies are increasingly excluded", the Primate of the Syrian Catholic Church insisted, "we deplore with the utmost firmness the continuing marginalization and exclusion of members of our community from public functions and administrative positions in the Lebanese State". The Patriarch also invited the President of the Republic, the Prime Minister, the heads of the parties to "make the promises made to our most deserving children".
Authoritative exponents of the Churches and Christian communities present in Lebanon next to the Maronite Church have already in the past appealed to President Michel Aoun and the Lebanese political forces to demand guarantees regarding adequate representation in political and administrative institutions for their communities of faithful. In January 2016, as reported by Agenzia Fides (see Fides, 22/1/2016), the Primates of the two Syro-Antiochene Churches - Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Syrian Catholic Patriarch Ignace Youssif III Younan - and asked all their political interlocutors that at least one seat in the Lebanese parliament is reserved for each of the two Syrian church communities.
In Lebanon, there are tens of thousands Syrian-Catholic and Syrian Orthodox Christians.
The system of parliamentary "quotas" guaranteed to Christian minorities is in force in several Arab countries with a Muslim majority, such as Egypt, Iraq and Jordan. In Lebanon, the delicate Lebanese institutional system reserves the office of President of the Republic to a Maronite Christian. The Ta'if agreements, which in 1989 sanctioned the end of the civil war season, provided for the numerical parity between the reserved parliamentary seats to Christian deputies and Muslim deputies. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 18/9/2019)