Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai criticized Hezbollah security measures on Tuesday without naming the militant group and questioned its skepticism of the army and security forces’ competency in protecting Lebanon.
He was referring to Hezbollah checkpoints in and around its stronghold of Dahieh in Beirut’s southern suburbs in after a bombing in the Ruwais area in which scores were killed and wounded.
Many politicians have since criticized the party for its security measures, but Hezbollah officials have denied that they have adopted autonomous security measures with MP Mohammed Raad saying that the party had repeatedly urged the state’s security forces to assume their duties in protecting Dahieh, but these demands were not fulfilled, a claim that was refuted by the minister of interior Marwan Charbel who had stressed last week that only the state’s security agencies are entitled to set up checkpoints.
“It is shameful for us to obstruct the role of the state and claim that it is unable to protect us,” al-Rai said before traveling to Rome on a week-long visit where he is scheduled to meet Pope Francis I.
On the other hand Rai praised President Michel Suleiman for seeking the interests of Lebanon and its constitutional institutions.
Rai said: “We have no need for autonomous security. Those who adopt such measures do not trust the state.”
“We must all strengthen the state and pay the necessary taxes,” he continued.
“We must all abide by the law and preserve the state’s institutions and security forces,” he remarked.
“We must abandon our personal and foreign interests for the sake of Lebanon,” he demanded.
Moreover, al-Rahi said that Suleiman needs the support of all sides in order to protect the country.
He said: “We must protect Lebanon through the Baabda Declaration.”
The patriarch added: “The president is the head of the country and he is calling for the assistance of all sides and we should therefore comply with his demands in order to complete the rest of the Lebanese body.”
“All sides should preserve the country and cooperate for the sake of the state,” al-Rahi stressed.
“A strong state protects us all, but a weak one won’t be able to protect anyone,” he noted.
“We hope that Lebanon will be allowed to play its role as a message of diversity and act as an oasis in the Arab world,” he continued.
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel had stressed last week that only the state’s security agencies are entitled to set up checkpoints.
We are the state
Hezbollah elements told a journalist that they detained at a checkpoint last Saturday: “we are the state”
Al Anwar newspaper journalist Maha al Rifai , was beaten , cursed and insulted by the Hezbollah elements that were manning the checkpoint when she insisted that a Lebanese internal police officer should attend to the matter . One of the Hezbollah elements even tried to hit her with an electric cane .
One of the Hezbollah elements then told her : “Don’t you ever think you can come back to the Dhahieh area” and continued to curse her.
This development took place a day after Hezbollah detained Journalist Hussein Shamas and assaulted him at its a checkpoints near Galerie Samaan, a mostly Christian area bordering the Hezbollah stronghold of Dhahieh