An Arab Spring can never be reached through violence and a government has no right to deal its people in a harsh way as is being witnessed in Syria now, Bechara Boutros Rai, Patriarch of the Maronite Syrian Catholic Church, has said. The Church supremo, who arrived here on Wednesday on a five-day visit as a state guest, was speaking to mediapersons here.
Sharply commenting on the scenario in countries adjoining his homeland of Lebanon, where the Maronite Church has its headquarters, the Patriarch asked the international community to learn lessons from his country on peaceful co-existence of communities and the importance of dialogue.
“In Syria, the conflict has, in the opinion of UN officials, degenerated into a civil war. We have witnessed much violence and bloodshed. Many countries are sending in arms and supporting the uprising, thereby pouring oil into the fire,’’ he blamed.
“No one doubts the legitimacy of the demands raised by the people, but violence is not the way to reach those goals. We have called upon various parties concerned to come to the negotiating table and try to find a political solution through dialogue,” the Patriarch said. He said that Lebanon is an example to the whole world on upholding diversities within unity and respecting religions.
“It is the only country in the Arab region where Islam is not the religion of the state. Christians and Muslims are equally represented in parliament as well as the government. This formula is unique worldwide and under the country’s Constitution guarantees total freedom of speech, freedom of religion and freedom of conscience,’’ he said. “In Lebanon, there is no citizen without a religion. Article Nine of the unique Constitution of the country says Glory to God,” he said.
He however, admitted that there were some problems in Lebanon also, but said that this was the fallout of conflicts in the country’s neighborhood. “The Patriarch is noted for his positive leadership and interventionist roles in the Lebanese society and around,” said Major Archbishop Catholicos Baselios Clemis, who was also with the Patriarch.
Expressing very high regard for the culture of dialogue and peace in India, the Patriarch said that the dictatorial regimes that were swept away as a result of the Arab awakening had left a dangerous vacuum. “New regimes will assume power in these countries and if one is not careful, these new regimes will be not less authoritarian than the previous ones,’’ he said. The Patriarch will attend various programmes of the Syro-Malankara Catholic Church in various parts of the state. He is leading a nine-member delegation.