ASIA/LEBANON – Maronite Patriarch after riots in Tayyouneh: “It is the duty of the State to protect its people”

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Beirut – The State has the task of “protecting its people”. And if this does not happen, those who “defend their dignity and the security of their surroundings” should not be treated as a “scapegoat”, said Cardinal Béchara Boutros Raï, Patriarch of the Maronite Church, about the current situation in Lebanon, where seven Shiite demonstrators were killed on Thursday, October 14, in Beirut, by snipers posted on the roofs of the “Christian” district of Tayyouneh in Beirut.
The words of the Patriarch, pronounced during the homily of the liturgical celebration he presided over on Sunday, October 24, was interpreted by observers as the support of the Lebanese cardinal for the positions of those who view the bloody events in Tayyouneh as a fatal accident in an attempt to “defend oneself” in the face of raids by Shiite militants who arrived from outside with weapons intent on intimidating. “We who believe in justice”, said the Patriarch, “do not accept that those who defended their dignity and the safety of their environment are turned into a scapegoat. These people, along with others, had defended Lebanon and offered thousands of martyrs for the sake of its unity and sovereignty”.
Twenty-six people were arrested after the riot in the Tayyouneh-Ain al-Remmaneh neighborhood, most of them from the Lebanese armed forces. With regard to these judicial measures, the Patriarch demanded in his homily that the investigation be conducted without “intimidation” and without the criminalization of “a single party” who would be treated “as if they were solely responsible for the incidents”.