On Thursday, a memorial service was held in Beirut’s southern suburb of Ghobeiry to honor the life of the late Lokman Slim, whose assassination shook Lebanon to its core.
It was an inclusive service with religious clerics of all Lebanese faiths in attendance to recite both Islamic and Christian prayers for Slim as his family and friends silently mourned.
However, after his funeral procession, some individuals of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) criticized the way a Christian prayer was recited for Slim, calling it an infringement of the Christian rituals.
Prominent FPM party member Charbel Khalil even called on the priest in attendance to apologize otherwise be held accountable for, what he personally believes to be, “an insult to the essence of the Christian faith.”
The statement, which was supported by other FPM tweeters, is highly debatable considering the history of Christianity in aiding and praying for all people without discrimination, a matter notably witnessed countless times from Pope Jean-Paul II and Pope Francis.
It is worth noting that the FPM member is neither a Christian theologist nor a religious authority in the matter, hence in no position to make such an accusation nor dictate to a priest what he should or not perform of his duties.
The attacks on the priest sparked outrage on social media from other Christians refuting the absurdity of the baseless accusation and the boldness of a political party to interfere in religious matters.
Such bias statements are even cruel in their insinuation that the bereaved mother, Salma Merchak, mourning her son, is a Christian, yet not allowed to have prayers of her religion at the funeral of her son.
It is uncertain if this, coming from Hezbollah-allied party members, will now be a new trend of politicizing religious prayers since a similar situation occurred with a Shia cleric shortly after the funeral.
The Shia cleric, who partook in the service prayers, went on social media to make a public apology about praying for the slain Slim and asserted his allegiance to Hezbollah, obviously constrained.
An outspoken critic of Hezbollah and the Lebanese government, Lokman Slim had countless supporters as well as opponents from Hezbollah and its allies. Even in his death, some of these opponents want to dictate how he is put to rest.