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Al-Rahi Returns from France, Says He Was 'Misinterpreted'

| 12.09,11. 02:18 AM |


Al-Rahi Returns from France, Says He Was 'Misinterpreted'

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday noted that his recent statements in France on the Syrian crisis and Hizbullah’s arms -- which stirred a storm of controversy in Lebanon – were not interpreted in a proper manner.

Speaking to reporters at the Beirut Rafik Hariri International Airport upon his return from a several-day visit to Paris, al-Rahi said: “I lament the fact that most of us observe things in a shallow manner and not in depth … we should not exploit things.”

“My brothers the patriarchs and I have realized that we can’t but tackle things in a serious and responsible manner,” al-Rahi said, stressing that “the patriarch speaks objectively and with all due impartiality.”

“I’m not complaining about anyone or settling scores with anyone … and I’m keen on my motto ‘partnership and love’,” the patriarch added.

He hoped “things in Lebanon will be tackled seriously and responsibly,” calling on journalists to be “objective and to report the truth as it is.”

“The media should not take statements out of context, and I blame them for taking things out of context and the readers for reading the headlines without the rest” of the remarks, al-Rahi said.

On the other hand, he extended his gratitude to the “French officials for the warm welcome” he received during his trip to France, noting that French President Nicolas Sarkozy “loves Lebanon and highly appreciates the (Maronite) patriarchate.”

Sarkozy “follows a clear approach that is mindful of the concerns of the Christians in the Middle East and the concerns of Lebanon,” al-Rahi said, noting that the French leader “discussed with the (patriarchate’s) delegation all the Lebanese and Arab affairs, and the reading was completely identical and we didn’t conceal everyone’s concerns regarding what’s happening in the Arab world.”

During his trip to France, al-Rahi said “Syrian President Bashar al-Assad must be given a chance because he is implementing reforms in Syria.”

He also called on the international community to force the implementation of resolutions issued by the U.N. Security Council in order to strip Hizbullah of excuses to possess arms.

Al-Rahi told Al-Arabiya television on Thursday that sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shiites may emerge if the Syrian government is overthrown.

“If the regime changes in Syria, and the Sunnis take over, they will form an alliance with the Sunnis in Lebanon, which will worsen the situation between the Shiites and the Sunnis,” al-Rahi said.

He warned that the Christians will pay the price if the Muslim Brotherhood succeeded Syrian President Assad.

Asked about Hizbullah’s arms, he responded: “The international community must pressure Israel to withdraw from the occupied Lebanese territories … and fulfill the Palestinians’ right of return, and consequently Hizbullah will have to lay down its arms.”


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