Thousands of Lebanese rallied in support of Lebanon’s top Christian cleric Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros Al-Rai's call for an international conference to take measures that will implement international acts to save Lebanon and allow the state to extend its authority over its entire territory.
Al-Rai has been calling for the conference for months without a direct position on Iran-backed Hezbollah. Last week, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah attacked al-Rai for his proposition adding that the conference will open the floor to foreign interference.
During the rally Al-Rai added that the proposed conference must provide support to the Lebanese army for it to be the only defender of the state.
Lebanon has been facing an unprecedented political and economic crisis resulting from decades of governmental corruption and mismanagement along with the growing power that Iran-backed Hezbollah has in the country which resulted in an isolation of the small nation from its Arab and international historical allies.
The Maronite church has always played a fundamental role in Lebanon’s history. Patriarch Elias Hoayek headed a Lebanese delegation to the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 which called for the establishment of the state of Lebanon. Lebanon’s former Maronite patriarch Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir had a major role in shaping Lebanon’s current political system after the Taif agreement which ended the civil war. He is also considered the leading religious figure which resulted in Syria’s withdrawal from Lebanon.
Al-Rai called on the Lebanese to not be silent about the multiplicity of loyalties to foreign nations, the stealing of their money, the loose solutions, the breach of Lebanese airspace.
“Also do not remain silent about the failure of the political class, nor about the chaos of the investigation into the port crime, nor about the politicization of the judiciary, nor about illegal and non-Lebanese weapons, nor about the coup against the state and the regime,” he added.
Al- Rai added that if the constitutional flaws had been addressed, he would not have called for an international conference to find a solution to the problems that paralyze the work of the constitution.
“We want the international conference to renew support for the democratic system that expresses the Lebanese’s adherence to freedom, justice and equality, and we want it to declare “Lebanon’s neutrality” so that it will no longer be a victim of conflicts and wars and a land of divisions,” al-Rai added.
Al-Rahi added that any development of the political system may not be at the expense of what the Lebanese have agreed upon since the establishment of the state of Lebanon.
“We liberated the land, so let us liberate the state from everything that hinders its authority and performance. There are no two states or multiple states on one land, no multiple armies in one country, and no multiple people in one homeland,” al-Rahi added.
“Development does not mean veto, but improvement, and it does not mean canceling the constitutional charters, but rather clarifying the ambiguities in them in order to consolidate the authorities and our right to live a decent life in our homeland,” al-Rahi added.
Al-Rai added that the aim of establishing the state of Lebanon was to create a neutral entity in this east that will form a link and a bridge between East and West.
“Lebanon’s departure from the policy of neutrality was the main reason for its fall through trials and wars, and whenever some sided with a regional and international axis, the people were divided and the constitution suspended,” al-Rai added.
Al-Rai concluded his statement saying that the Lebanese were born to live in the meadows of permanent peace, and they refuse to live in permanent battlefields.
“We are children of peace, and we are a people who want all of their history to be a history of friendships, not hostilities, and Lebanon’s geographical advantage is that it lives through communication, not hatred,” he added.