Lebanese peace rally seeks to bring Christians and Muslims together

By staff writers
February 15, 2007

More than 300,000 Lebanese people took part in a huge unity rally in Beirut, the country's capital, on 14 February 2007. They were there to mark the anniversary of the murder of parliamentarian Rafik Hariri, reports Independent Catholic News.

The peaceful demonstration began with welcoming words from Ghassan Tueni, who invited the crowd to repeat the oath pronounced by his own son Gibran - who was also assassinated in December 2005 - after Hariri's murder: "Never again war between Christians and Muslims."

Waving flags, handkerchiefs and balloons in the blue colour of Lebanon's coalition administration, some in the crowd shouted slogans against Syria and its Lebanese allies - widely understood to be behind the wave of killings. But the atmosphere was largely positive and united in opposition to sectarian politics and communal hatred.

At exactly 12:55 - the time of Hariri's assassination - the crowd fell silent, apart from a muezzin making the Islamic call to prayer and the tolling of church bells in the background.

Meanwhile, reports VIS, Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sent a telegram of condolence, in the Pope's name, to His Beatitude Cardinal Nasrallah Pierre Sfeir, Patriarch of Antioch of the Lebanese Maronites, Lebanon - for the victims of the 13 February bomb attack north of Beirut in which three people were killed and around 20 injured.

The message read: "Profoundly grieved by the terrible attack that struck Lebanon this morning, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI asks Your Beatitude to express his spiritual closeness to the injured and to the relatives of the victims, and give them assurances of his prayers."

It continued: "Entrusting to divine providence those who died so tragically, the Holy Father... calls upon the Lebanese people and their representatives to unanimously reject violence and hopes that, in this dramatic event, they may find the motivation for a commitment in favour of national unity and the common good."

Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.