On Wednesday, August 26th, the Maronite League in Lebanon issued a statement in which it denounced the stances taken by some media outlets, in particular, the pro-Hezbollah newspaper Al-Akhbar that accuses the Maronite Patriarch of treason.
Quoting a Lebanese proverb, the Patriarch said in that regard, “Not every time the cone taps the jar, we get accused of treason.”
It is actually an ongoing trend for the past two decades that whoever and whatever expresses an opinion that is deemed against Hezbollah or the party’s arsenal, even if it’s just reporting related news, get accused of treason against the state, or being a Zionist, or spies and the likes.
A grave accusation in Lebanon with dire consequences, which is daringly used as a tool of oppression against freedom of opinions and expression.
It has been used even more so in recent times with over half of the Lebanese nation rejecting the existence of arsenal out of the authority of the Lebanese army and state. The false accusation slanders them all as well.
And now, it is the top head of the Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch, Patriarch Bechara Boutros El-Rahi, who is being accused of the same alleged treason for expressing his opinion.
Basically, these people allow themselves the freedom of speech which they forbid others by force.
However, the Lebanese wouldn’t take it. Supporting the Patriarch, many from various sects are proclaiming their stand with the top religious leader in a massive twitter trend under the Arabic hashtag “With Bkerke.”
“I am Druze, and the Patriarch Al-Rahi represents me, and period,” tweeted Samer Eldine.
“I’m not with Bkerke because I’m Christian. I’m with Bkerke because I’m Lebanese,” tweeted Nehme Akar.
“I am Sunni, Lebanese from Denniyeh, and the Patriarch represents me,” tweeted Wael Ali Yakhni, responding to a tweet by Reem Itani who said, “I am Sunni, Lebanese, from Beirut, and the Patriarch represents me.”
Those attacking the Patriarch on Twitter, accusing him of treason and infidelity, are criticizing his stances as being against Hezbollah, most particularly for him speaking about neutrality, aka having Lebanon as a neutral state, away from the regional conflicts that have been wrecking Lebanon for decades.
In response, Patriarch Al-Rahi stated to MTV Lebanon: “Neutrality is the contract of stability to get out of the crisis, and we were waiting for a scientific response, not an accusation of betrayal.”
He added: “I was waiting for those who had any contradictions about my suggestion to give convincing and judicial proofs, and not to throw accusations at every turn.”
Patriarch Al-Rahi stressed that the patriarchate is not an agent for any side. On the contrary, it only states the truth loud and clear: “We are not associated with anyone inside or outside the country, and the only salvation for the Lebanese is a neutral Lebanon.”
He also spoke against the uncontrolled armament in Lebanon, asking the government to “collect the weapons.”
Responding to talks of him speaking against Hezbollah in particular, the Patriarch denied those and said that he spoke only of principles.
The trending hashtag shows a general stance of solidarity with the Maronite Patriarch and his statements as the Lebanese believe he is focusing on bettering Lebanon and on the country’s salvation.
It is useless to deny the evident fact that the state has lost its sovereign right to decide on the country’s interests away from the pressure of political parties allied with foreign countries and their interest, notably Iran, as it was previously with the Syrian regime.
The interests of these countries and their conflicts and politics have over dominated for too long the interests of the Lebanese nation, particularly its stability, its safety, its freedom, its progress, and even its peaceful coexistence.
Lebanon has been long held hostage to these proxies in the country. And any who has dared to speak up the blatant truth gets accused of traitor to the country, zionist, Israeli spy, and so on.
On a side note (or maybe not), we can’t miss mentioning how activists for women’s rights got also accused of Zionism during their demonstrations years back. A tool of terror to shut up people, which is no longer permitted, considering its absurdity.
As for Patriarch Al-Rahi, his stance comes as a response to Lebanon literally agonizing after the Beirut explosion. The situation was harsh before the doomsday of August 4th, now it’s terrible.
He called on the government to take accountability for the Beirut explosion, to arrest those directly responsible, and to remove all other weapon depots that could cause another life catastrophe on the population.