Pope in appeal for religious freedom
POPE Benedict appealed for religious freedom in the Middle East last night, calling it fundamental for stability in a region bloodied by sectarian strife.
He spoke on the second day of his visit to Lebanon, a country with the largest percentage of Christians in the Middle East. He arrived amid a wave of violent demonstrations across the Muslim world over a US- produced anti-Islam film.
“Let us not forget that religious freedom is a fundamental right from which many other rights stem,” he said, speaking to officials, diplomats and religious leaders at the president palace in the suburbs of Beirut.
He held up Lebanon, which is still rebuilding after a devastating 1975-1990 civil war largely fought on sectarian lines, as an example of co-existence for the region.
He said Christians and Muslims in Lebanon share the same space – at times in the same family – and asked: “If it is possible in families, why not in entire societies?”
Christians, who make up about 10 per cent of Syria’s population, say they are particularly vulnerable to the violence sweeping the country of 22 million people.
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Friday 24 May 2013
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