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BEIRUT (The Daily Star): The Syriac Orthodox bishop of Mount Lebanon and Tripoli George Saliba Wednesday denounced Muslims as enemies of Jesus, accusing them of a history of violence and oppression against Christians.
“What is happening in Iraq is a strange thing, but it is normal for Muslims, because they have never treated Christians well, and they have always held an offensive and defaming stand against Christians,” Elnashra.com reported Saliba as saying in a radio interview.
“We are not calling for armament and war; we don’t have the capacities,” Saliba said. “We used to live and coexist with Muslims, but then they revealed their canines [teeth].
“They are the enemies of Christ and they do not differ from the Jews in terms of treating Christians.”
The bishop accused Muslims of centuries of violence against Christians, condemning the attacks on the Christians of Iraqi Mosul.
“[They don’t] have the right to storm houses, steal and attack the honor of Christians,” Saliba said. “Most Muslims do this, the Ottomans killed us and after that the ruling nation-states understood the circumstances but always gave advantage to the Muslims.”
Saliba also said Muslim generations are raised on bad feelings against Christians, saying this applies to the majority of Muslims.
“Islam has never changed, and Muslims have been educated on the bad treatment of Christians,” he said.
“We are not surprised by these behaviors, but we [put hopes] on some Muslims brothers who do not support such behaviors, despite them being a minority.”
According to Elnashra, the General Coordinator of the Islamic Work Front in Lebanon Sheikh Zouheir Al-Joaid responded to Saliba’s speech, condemning its content and accusing the bishop of hatred and ignorance.
“The bishop’s attack on Islam and Muslims tattles his bad and hateful background, and his ignorance about the religion that had supported Christians and their holy places for the long centuries of Islamic rule,” Joaid said Wednesday.
Joaid mentioned the major points of Saliba’s comments, stressing on the latter’s accusation that Muslims are the enemies of the Christ.
“These are defamation against Islam, its content and what the Quran said about our master Issa the Christ, peace be upon him.”
Joaid stressed that all moderate Muslim religious authorities and figures had condemned the fundamentalist Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria’s behavior and actions.
“What the terrorist ISIS has done to Muslims is much greater than what they did to others,” he said.
Joaid finally called on Saliba to present an apology for the content of his speech or to deny any wrongly reported elements of it.
Labor Minister Sejaan Azzi, the Kataeb party’s deputy head, had made comments similarly controversial to Saliba’s Saturday, in a speech condemning the attacks on the Mosul Christians.
“We are not embarrassed to raise the voice and publicly say: We have tried all forms of common life, common state, region and village; what have we gained from all these experiences since 1400 years?” Azzi asked, referring to the beginning of Islam in the seventh century.
“What they couldn’t get in the era of conquests, they are trying to get it in the era of revolutions,” he added.
“We will not allow them to get it and we will safe-guard our honor and dignity and [protect] the free Christian existence.”