The Daily Star BEIRUT: In a move that was aimed at enhancing the country’s national unity and in an effort to diffuse any sectarian backlash of the “Black Sunday” street riots, Prime Minister Fouad Siniora hosted a meeting of Christian and Muslim religious leaders at the Grand Serail Thursday evening.
“We should work together to deter sectarian dangers for the sake of our youth and our future,” Siniora said following the meeting.
Christian religious leaders who attended the meeting included Bishops Boulos Matar and Roland Abou Jaoude of the Maronite Church, Patriarch Gregarious Laham of the Greek Catholic Church and Bishop Aram Kechichian of the Armenian Orthodox Church. The Muslim community was represented by Sunni Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, who heads Dar el Fatwa, and Sheikh Abdel-Amir Kabalan, President of the Higher Shiite Council.
“You have the ability more than others to establish inter-communal peace by spreading the values of tolerance in these extraordinary circumstances,” Siniora said in addressing the religious leaders.
The premier admitted to shortcomings by his Cabinet in dealing with the security situation in the country, but said the government was determined to remedy that and continue working to achieve Lebanon’s complete independence. “We have missed many chances and maybe we had excuses. But we want to continue our path towards independence and building a nation,” Siniora said.
“For 30 years, and until now, our security was not in our hands … and the country has been subjected to internal and external political and security pressures for several months now,” the premier added, in reference to beliefs in the country that Syria stands behind the security chaos in the country. “All that is happening indicates that there is a plan to scare us, and prove that we (the Lebanese) cannot rule ourselves without hegemony and interference.” However, Siniora said that by staying united, the Lebanese can overcome this difficult period. “If we want a country, we must all live up to our responsibilities,” he said.