National Liberal Party leader MP Dori Chamoun told Al-Liwaa newspaper in remarks published on Monday that Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai’s statements on Syria and Hezbollah’s arms are “a fatal sin.”
“Rai has abandoned the Lebanese people’s principles… and the Syrian regime has abandoned the Christians,” Chamoun said. He added that he “was not convinced” by the patriarch’s clarification of his previous statements.
Chamoun commented on a Syrian delegation’s visit to Rai, saying, “The visit came after Rai gave them a present they have never dreamed of,” in reference to the patriarch’s pro-Syrian regime statements.
Rai came under fire earlier in September from the opposition March 14 parties but won praise from March 8 politicians for indirectly defending Hezbollah’s arms and linking the party’s arsenal to the termination of Israeli occupation of Lebanese territory and the return of Palestinian refugees to their homeland . Even MP Walid Jumblatt who defected from March 14 alliance was very critical of Rai’s statements.
Rai emphasized during a trip to Paris that “only when the international community exerts pressure on Israel to vacate the occupied Lebanese territory ( the Shebaa Farms, Kfar Shouba hills and the Lebanese part of the disputed border village of Ghajar ) and Israel allows Palestinians in Lebanon to return to their homes, can Hezbollah be asked to hand over its arms because they will no longer be needed.”
Rai added that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is “open-minded” and should be given more chances to implement the reforms he already announced.
The patriarch claimed after returning to Lebanon that the remarks he made while in Paris “were taken out of context and have nothing to do” with his personal opinion.
Rai met on Wednesday with a delegation of Syrian religious figures headed by Damascus Mufti Adnan Afyouni.
Rai reiterated his controversial position on Syria and Hezbollah’s arms during a meeting Friday with President Michel Suleiman who is planning to renew his call for rival leaders to engage in national dialogue to end their deep political divisions, sources said.
Assad’s regime has cracked down on a string of unprecedented protests across his country, killing more than 2,700 civilian protesters since the uprising began in March, according to the United Nations.
Chamoun also slammed Free Patriotic Movement leader MP Michel Aoun and said that the latter contributed to “the country’s destruction,” adding that Aoun’s “dream is to become president.”
Asked about Hezbollah, Chamoun said that the Shiite group wants to change the demographics of the country by making it a Shiite one.
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