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Muslim-Christian meeting in Lebanon warns against internal divisions

JERUSALEM (ENI) Lebanese religious leaders have warned against
growing internal divisions in their country and urged national leaders to
work towards unity and tolerance, following a joint Christian-Muslim meeting
convened May 12 in Bkirki by newly appointed Maronite Patriarch Beshara
Rai.

Lebanon has been without a functioning government since January, when the
Muslim militant group and political party Hezbollah toppled the government
coalition of Saad Al Hariri in a dispute over an investigation of the
assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri, Saad’s
father.

In turn, Al Hariri has refused to support the appointment of
Hezbollah-chosen Najib Miqati as the new prime minister. According to the
Lebanese English daily, the Daily Star, the religious leaders said divisions
could weaken Lebanon’s ability to face regional challenges, and they
expressed support for dialogue to resolve domestic problems.

In his opening speech, Rai said Lebanon needed to set a precedent of
inter-religious dialogue and strengthen Lebanon’s national pact of
coexistence, according to media reports.

In their final statement, the leaders urged political leaders to form a new
government as soon as possible, based on “constitutional principles so that
(the country) can play its role as the region is going through critical
times,” the Daily Star said.

The summit’s statement also encouraged officials “to refer to constitutional
institutions to solve any conflict and to depend on the Lebanese Army and
legitimate security forces to preserve stability and security and fight
organized terrorism,” said media reports.

In reference to the current regional instability, the religious leaders
pledged not to interfere “directly or indirectly” in other countries’ internal affairs,

according to media reports.

They warned that current divisions are harming Lebanon’s ability to confront
challenges currently facing the Arab region.

“The Lebanese government is the source of power for the Lebanese people. The
citizens are supposed to respect [the state] institutions, and the officials should
respond to [national] needs,” they said. “Political leaders should rise above their
political differences.”

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