Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday called on anti-government protesters to “respect citizens’ right to movement” and “avoid the blocking of public roads.”
In his Sunday Mass sermon, he called on them to resort instead to organizing demonstrations in public squares to “express their rightful demands according to legal and civilized norms.”
The patriarch added that such a tactic would spare protesters “any clash with the army and security forces” and would enable them to “stand as a firm bulwark in the face of subversive infiltrators.”
Al-Rahi also voiced regret over the death of two men in a car crash linked to roadblocking protests in the North.
Commenting on the latest stances of Army chief General Joseph Aoun, the patriarch said he understands “the complaints of the military institution,” stressing that it is unacceptable to put the army “in the face of its people.”
Authorities “have no right to neglect the army’s needs or to disregard the input of its command or the sentiments of its officers and soldiers,” al-Rahi added, referring to the army’s financial deficit in light of the country’s growing economic and financial crisis.
“The army is the legitimate force in charge of defending Lebanon and it is unacceptable to legalize or cover for the presence of any illegal arms alongside its arms. The army is the army of the entire nation and some do not have the right to turn it into the army of the ruling authority,” al-Rahi warned.
“The army is the army of democracy and no one has the right to turn it into the army of repressive measures,” the patriarch cautioned.