Al-Rahi Says Coexistence in Lebanon a Leading Example

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi stressed on Tuesday the importance of equality between Muslims and Christians in Lebanon, reiterating that the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) are not linked to Islam.

“Lebanon is a model for coexistence between Muslim and Christian. They both live equally,” al-Rahi said from the Australian capital Canberra.

He pointed out that Christians should maintain their presence in the region to achieve integration with Muslims.

“Christians shouldn't continue with their divisions,” al-Rahi said.

The patriarch traveled to Australia at the end of October on a two-week pastoral visit.

Concerning the rising threat of ISIL in the region, al-Rahi admitted that the Middle East is going “through difficult stages,” differentiating between terrorist organizations and takfiri groups.

“The jihadists are not all Muslims... It (ISIL) includes all kinds of mercenaries and sick and worried people, who are being exploited,” he added.

He called on ISIL group to engage in a humanitarian dialogue.

The IS group has declared a so-called Islamic "caliphate" in the territory it controls in Syria and Iraq, imposing its extreme interpretation of Islam and executing opponents.

A U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab nations has carried out a wave of air strikes on IS positions in Iraq and Syria, with around 34 nations committed to the fight against the group.



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