Cardinal Al Rahi Condemns the Attacks on the Lebanese Army

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi described on Monday as “executioners” all parties that use illegitimate arms against the Lebanese people, saying the country was paying the price of their actions. “When we use illegitimate arms against the people of our nation we all become executioners,” al-Rahi said during a ceremony in Adma, north of Beirut.

“There is only one victim that is Lebanon,” he said. “They are all executioners!” he added about the March 8 and 14 alliances whom he blamed for the deteriorating security situation in Lebanon. He said the attack on the army in the southern city of Sidon is an assault on the state, the dignity of the people and the nation's self-esteem. He also described the attack on state institutions as “a crime against the people and high treason.”

At least 12 soldiers have been killed in less than 24 hours of clashes with supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in Sidon. The fighting intensified on Monday, a day after the violence began, when al-Asir's supporters opened fire on an army checkpoint in Abra where the cleric's Bilal Bin Rabah mosque lies.

Al-Rahi condemned “all those covering up for the crimes, including politicians,” saying they were as guilty as those committing the crimes. He urged the judiciary to arrest Sidon's gunmen and give them the ultimate punishment “although some politicians, who are professionals in covering up for crimes, might pressure it.”

The patriarch said Sidon's fighting and similar cases in different regions in addition to the involvement in Syria's war came despite the Baabda declaration in which different parties had pledged to distance Lebanon from the region's crises. “They are the results of the persistence to paralyze state institution and dismantle them,” he said.