Syriac Maronite Patriarch meets with international religious freedom delegation in Lebanon

BETH KERKE, Lebanon — Syriac Maronite Patriarch Bechara Butros al-Rai received a delegation from the International Religious Freedom or Belief Alliance (IRFBA) comprising representatives from 14 countries at the Patriarchal Edifice in Beth Kerke (Bkerke), Lebanon. The delegation, invited by the Adyan Foundation, was headed by IRFBA Vice-Chair and delegation coordinator Robert Řehák.

During the meeting, Řehák highlighted the IRFBA’s aim to promote peace among peoples of different religions and praised Lebanon for its exemplary role in strengthening human relations and promoting dialogue. He also appreciated the efforts of the Syriac Maronite Church in this regard.

The Patriarch stressed the importance of preserving religious freedoms, noting that there are no problems between Christians and Muslims apart from politics. “Only in politics, the language of dialogue is absent,” he said. “Lebanon suffers from the problem of political dialogue between politicians due to private and factional interests.”

Patriarch al-Rai further emphasized that Lebanon recognizes all freedoms, including freedom of belief and religion, through its constitution. However, extremism has been rising in the region, and the Lebanese people have lost confidence in their ruling class, which prioritizes their own interests.

Elie al-Hindi, Executive Director of the Adyan Foundation, explained that the delegation was invited to visit Lebanon to learn about the situation and the crises the country faces. The visit also aimed to explore ways in which the international community can contribute to solving these issues and address problems related to freedom of religion and belief.