Caretaker Minister of Foreign Affairs and Emigrants, Gebran Bassil, said at the "promoting religious freedom" conference held at the US State Department in Washington "We are meeting today to promote religious freedom while the Knesset yesterday considered Israel a Jewish state," deeming the decision "a blow to pluralism and a booster of extremism, as it threatens the Palestinians living inside Palestine, strikes the right of return, and constitutes a wall of separation between religions."
"I come from a different place, from the country of religions and sects. I come from the east from which the three heavenly religions have started. (...) I come from the only country in the world where Christians and Muslims equally share the responsibilities and positions in the State," Bassil said before his audience.
"We have learned from past experiences, and so, we did not provide extremist ideas with the environment they need. Thus, the terrorists were defeated by our army, and we were the first country in the region to expel Daesh from its land by a national decision," the minister went on to say.
"In our region, and despite the spreading extremism because of the Arab Spring and the Shiite-Sunni conflict, Lebanon remains focused on what brings together its own people, not what divides them," Bassil affirmed, pointing out that "Lebanon has 18 sects that share the concept of acceptance of the other and dialogue which is the way to fighting extremism and terrorism."
"Although Lebanon's constitution is based on sectarian division, we are almost the only democracy in the region (...). Lebanon is unique in its message. For this reason, I call upon you, echoing the words of our President of the Republic, to make it a center for dialogue of religions with the United Nations."
"You are concerned with preserving the Lebanese formula that protects religious freedom through the support of the legitimate institutions, on top of which the Lebanese army. We thank the United States of America and every other country that has contributed to supporting Lebanon's armed forces. The biggest threat to this formula would be the Syrian displacement and the Palestinian refugees residing on our land, and who should be repatriated as soon as possible, safe and dignified, so as not to tamper with diversity which is the basis for any permanent solution in the region," Bassil stressed.
"The issue of displacement does not only tamper with our societies, but also affects all your countries. Europe's political map is changing because of asylum. (...) In the end, the stability of Lebanon is a global necessity, because it is the example of diversity in the world. So I appeal to you to work together to reduce the slide of some groups and nations towards unilateralism and to stop feeding this tendency to use religion for authoritarian purposes that lead to racial discrimination," the minister concluded.
Source: National News Agency