The objections being voiced against the declarations of the Maronite Patriarch Bechara al-Ra’ii, issued by some secularists and others who refuse to allow al-Ra’ii to hold a political opinion as a head religious figure in Lebanon, were remarked upon by University Professor and Researcher Mona Fayad. On her Facebook page, she said that no sane and objective Lebanese, both secular or religious, can refuse a call for the salvation for the country and the constitution!
In her statement, she writes: “On the attitude of some secularists towards the Patriarch: I have no reservation against any beliefs whatsoever. Freedom of belief is sacred whether it was the belief in god or the lack off, belief in sects or secularism, or belief in a creator or in the coincidence. It is surprising from those who follow the theories of Freud, Marx, Nietzsche, or Darwin to refuse the religious his/her belief in God. I do not find belief in “Mother Nature” different than belief in the creator either!”
She continued: “What is unacceptable is to be coerced by the other to believe in their dogmas or doctrines, be it by force, foolery, or bribery!
Regarding the Patriarch’s historic speech, I support it because it mirrors my own views as a Lebanese citizen whose concern is to save Lebanon first and foremost!
Up until now, there has been no alternative path to reach that salvation. Gentlemen, in our current times, we do not exist outside the scope of our national identity and country.
Anyone without a country or a national identity is as if they do not exist. They are not recognized internationally on any record, and as a result they do not possess any rights. They are not afforded hospitalization, education, work, or travel.
Al-Ra’ii expressed the sentiments and hopes of a significant portion of the Lebanese people of all sects… It was his viewpoint. It wasn’t a law you are forced to abide, a religious obligation, nor a threat that is meant to terrorize you.”
Al-Ra’ii’s opinion is not obligatory. It is not followed by: “Agree or be slaughtered”. It is an opinion and a stance that everyone is free to accept or reject. But to reject a stance based on the identity of its holder being a religious figure who has no right to interfere with politics?
That is an unfair and unacceptable standard. A cleric has the right to express political opinion. What he does not have to right to do is to make to his opinion compulsory for his followers. What we call for is the separation of state and religion, not preventing the clergy from having authentic political opinions that they can share in a free manner.
It is noticeable that some of those protesting in the name of secularism and communism fail to protest against those who wave their fingers and are armed with weapons and religious ideology; despite the fact that this certain party enforces its will upon the entire state and bind it with their own position. They force everyone to submit to an army financed by a foreign state that boasts its occupation of Lebanon.
You may be opposed to the Patriarch’s statements but be against it politically with bravery. Do not hide behind your beliefs that are not better than anyone else’s beliefs that you reject.
Could an objective and rational secular person reject the statements of the Patriarch who is calling for the implementation of the constitution that protects the rights of Lebanon’s citizens to freedom of belief? This ensures the right of all people to be secular, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, and all other denominations.