Aoun urges Vatican to halt ‘Christian exodus’

201092322401201-aoun1.jpgBy Wassim Mroueh

DBAYYEH: The head of the Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun has urged the Vatican to prevent the exodus of Christians from the Middle East, saying religious extremism is not the sole motive for migration.

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 “The dire economic situation, political instability, continuous wars since World War I and resulting poverty and starvation … the establishment of Israel and ethnic cleansing against its Muslim and Christian inhabitants and barring them from returning to their homeland constitute more than valid reasons for [Christian] migration,” he said, during a news conference on Thursday.

The Kesrouan MP called the conference, held at Le Royal Hotel in Dbayyeh, to outline the content of a letter he sent to Pope Benedict XVI and bishops intending to participate in the Synod Conference on the Middle East in October, which aims to examine the situation of Christians in the East.

“Accordingly, there is a plan to naturalize Palestinians in states to which they were expelled, the thing we reject and try to prevent because it aims at emptying the land from its natives and driving Christians from the homeland of Jesus Christ,” he said.

“Can we imagine Christ and Christianity without Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth, Kfar Nahum and Tiberias?” he asked, adding that the Judaization of Israel would spark conflict.

Several MPs plus religious and media figures and state officials were in attendance.

Aoun urged the Vatican to thwart attempts to “demonize Islam,” which might, along with universalizing Islamophobia, prompt a clash of religions and civilizations that would destroy the entire world.

“Easterners expect the Vatican … along with heads of Catholic and Protestant churches to work on [ convincing] administrations and governments of Western states to halt attempts to demonize Islam, the religion of more than one billion,” said Aoun.

“And to call for examining the essence and religious text of Islam only, away from the acts of terrorist groups which Muslims consider themselves victims of just like the rest of the world,” he added.

Aoun said Christians of the Middle East wanted the pope to pressure Israel to stop the Judaization of Jerusalem and achieve peace in the region and halt the migration of Assyrians, Syriacs and Chaldeans from Iraq.

“They also expect [the pope] to support their presence in their countries and stop their expulsion or migration from it, especially in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon, amid policies pursued by Western states and Israel to reach this result,” he said.

Aoun called upon the Levantine church and patriarchs to coordinate continuously, “just as Christ is one in all bibles, and to at least celebrate one Easter day in the Middle East.”

The FPM leader urged action. “Imagine for one instant a Middle East without its Christians, it is only at that time that evil will triumph in the world, the effect of resurrection will become null and the world will head toward an unprecedented slaughter,” said Aoun.

Prior to Aoun’s address, Ghassan Shami discussed a study he prepared on the situation of Christians in the Arab Levant. He attributed migration to a weak feeling of belonging, economic causes and religious fundamentalism.

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(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News ::