Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rai Remarks on Non-Christian Help Spark Controversy

Take note of the stament in Bold!

BEIRUT: Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai’s recent statement that Christian religious institutions shouldn’t employ non-Christian foreigners has drawn mixed responses.

At a Sunday Bkirki Mass in honor of Myriam Ashkar, a woman who was killed by a janitor at a monastery she was visiting in Sahel Alma, Rai said that “in order to protect their sanctity and inviolability, we call on officials at monasteries, religious institutions and centers not to entrust their protection to non-Christian foreigners or to house them on their premises.”
Fathi Salateen, a Syrian national, has been charged with the premeditated murder of Ashkar.
Father Abdo Abu Kasm, head of the Bkirki-affiliated Catholic Media Center, said Rai “asked that we have Christian workers, so that they can know the value of our institutions because what happened was unacceptable.”
He called Rai’s call “the minimum reaction to [Ashkar’s] murder.”

Abu Kasm added that the patriarch’s request wouldn’t apply to non-Christian Lebanese, because “the Lebanese have customs and traditions, whether they are Christian or Muslim, so they know the value of the Church and they know the value of the Mosque.”

Others have criticized Rai’s call. Ali Fakhry, of Lebanon’s Anti-Racism Movement told The Daily Star that it shows “how racist and unaware of migrant rights and the situation of racism in Lebanon” Rai is.

“We are surprised and at the same time not surprised by this statement,” Fakhry said, adding that he did not have exact numbers as to how many people could lose their jobs as a result of Rai’s statement, but said “this will affect a lot of people.”

For his part, Abu Kasm said “we need to wait and see” how many people would be affected, adding that “all institutions belonging to the Church, including schools” fall under the umbrella of Rai’s comments, but not charity associations.

Abu Kasm also added that he considered the patriarch’s statements to be a “request,” while others have appeared to interpret it as an order.

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