Patriarch Rai blasts anti US ruling, decries Aoun’s meeting ‘worsened rift’

Patriarch Rai outraged 2

Lebanon Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai basted on Sunday the judicial ruling against the U.S. ambassador and reminded the Lebanese of “the freedom of expression that characterizes Lebanon in its region.”

He decried president Aoun’s Baabda national meeting

“It has unfortunately worsened the domestic political rift” due to “lack of proper preparation, “he stressed .

As expected the Baabda meeting was born dead since it was boycotted by the majority of the Lebanese leaders . Two former presidents and 4 former Premiers boycotted the meeting which was described by the 4 former Prime ministers as a waste of time and lacking any agenda

The patriarch sounded outraged over the judicial ruling and its effect on freedom of expression in Lebanon by saying:

“It ( freedom of expression) was enshrined in the constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, whose preamble was devised by Dr. Charles Malek of Lebanon during his chairmanship of the U.N. General Assembly in 1948,” the patriarch said in his Sunday’s Mass sermon.

“We very much regret yesterday’s judicial ruling which banned a diplomatic figure representing a world power from the right to express opinions,” the cardinal whois the highest Christian authority in Lebanon added.

Decrying that the ruling “was issued during a (judicial) holiday contrary to legal norms,” the patriarch said the move “tarnished the image of the Lebanese judiciary and violated its constitution.”

“It requires condemnation and must be rectified,” the cardinal urged.

During an interview with Al-Hadath TV channel aired on Friday, U.S. Ambassador Dorothy Shea said the United States has “grave concerns about the role of Hezbollah,” labeling it as “a designated terrorist organization.”

“It has siphoned off billions of dollars that should have gone into government coffers so that the government can provide basic services to its people,” she said. “It has obstructed some of the economic reforms the Lebanese economy so desperately needs,” Shea added.

Judge Mohammed Mazeh, the urgent matters judge in the southern city of Tyre, sparked an outrage after he issued a ruling banning local and foreign media working in the country from airing or publishing any comments by Shea for a one-year period.

Hezbollah MP Hassan Fadlallah on Sunday defended Judge Mazieh’s media ban and condemned what he called the U.S. ambassador’s “hostile behavior,” saying her latest remarks constitute an “attack” on the country’s “sovereignty and dignity.”

Lebanese officials apologized to the US ambassador in the country Saturday .

A senior official from President Michel Aoun’s office criticized the south Lebanon judge’s order saying it contradicts international and diplomatic treaties. “This judge should get a warning of some sorts from the Higher Judicial Council,” the official told Al Arabiya English, adding that it was out of the judge’s prerogatives to make such a decision.

According to political observers the Free Patriotic Movement, the party that General Michel Aoun founded before becoming president is beginning to regret its support for the Iranian backed Hezbollah and of providing it with Christian political cover that resulted in destabilizing the region. Several FPM officials reportedly quit the party over Hezbollah’s support.

President Aoun signed an agreement with Hezbollah in 2006 and has been supporting it ever since .

Aoun remained silent about the ruling by the pro Hezbollah judge.