Lebanese Orthodox leaders slam Russian church over Syria war


Residents of Kafranbel in Syria protested  against Russian airstrikes October 3, 2015.
Residents of Kafranbel in Syria protested against Russian airstrikes October 3, 2015.
46 prominent Lebanese Orthodox Christian leaders signed a petition Thursday denouncing the Russian Orthodox Church’s characterization of its country’s military intervention in Syria as a “holy war.”

“We categorically oppose the use of religious feelings to serve political interests and we reject giving religious legitimacy to stances by countries, the activities of their armies or to armed organizations,” the petition read.

It also condemned the religious justification of wars and terrorist organizations.

The leaders also slammed using “protecting Christians” as a pretext to serve nationalistic or political goals, “as some did in their defense of the Russian military intervention in Syria.”

The petition called on churches and Muslim religious institutions to support reconciliation rather than wars.

This development comes after a statement from the Russian Orthodox Church described Russia’s airstrikes in Syria as part of a “holy battle.” Russia escalated its involvement in the Syrian civil war last month month after President Vladimir Putin attained parliamentary approval to intervene in the war.

“We call on Christians and Muslims to cooperate in the defense of human rights, individuals, and organizations, and we call on them to oppose all forms of discrimination based on religious affiliation,” the petition read.

It encouraged individuals to circulate the petition across social media through visiting the Facebook’s campaign page: Petition Against Religious Wars.

The signatories of the petition include former Culture Minister Tarek Mitri, Information Minister Ramzi Joreige, former Justice Minister Ibrahim Najjar, former Economy Minister Nicholas Nahas, former MP Gabriel Murr, journalist Gisele Khoury Kassir, Future bloc MP Atef Majdalani, and Lebanese Forces MP Joseph Maalouf.