Artical courtesy of Notes on Arab Orthodoxy. The original in Arabic is from the Lebanese daily newspaper al-Akhbar. The message from Metropolitan Antonio Chedraoui that so offended the Saudis can be read here.
Lebanon to... Mexico, Saudi Arabia is waging a hidden campaign to stifle any Christian voice expressing anxiety about the existential threat to Christians in Syria and the Middle East at the hands of
Takfiris. As far as Riyadh is concerned, no voice should rise above the din of battle, even if this requires departing from the usual minimal standards of diplomatic work.
The Saudi ambassador in Beirut, Ali Iwad al-Asiri mustered all his influence to frustrate a consultative meeting for Arab ambassadors in Lebanon called by Cardinal Beshara Rai on August 27, which he hosted in Dimane. The goal of the meeting was to encourage some Arab countries to stop supporting the Takfiris who, under the banner of the "Arab Spring", are destroying the Christian presence in Syria, Lebanon, and the Middle East in general. Al-Asiri boycotted the gathering and pressured ambassadors from countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council to boycot it. The manner in which the Kuweiti ambassador, Abdul'al al-Qana'ei, was absent from the gathering gives the impression that it was due to Saudi pressure. Up until the night before the meeting, al-Qana'ei affirmed his intent to be present but shortly before it began he gave his regrets under the pretext of security concerns.
Takfiri are those who hold a radical fundamentalists view of Islam and condone acts of violence as a legitimate method of achieving religious and or political goals. Takfiris believe that all those including fellow Muslims who do not follow their fundamentalist interpretation of Islam are to be considered as kafir (infidel).
See also: Fie on You, Takfiris! by Fr Georges Massouh
The message sent by al-Asiri's behavior is that Riyadh is opposed to Middle Eastern Christians raising their voice against the fundamentalists because no sound should rise above the din of battle in Syria. In order to achieve this, Riyadh will not shy away from pressing all its weight to silence any voice that might ask about the future of the Christians of the Middle East in the shadow of the expansion of Takfirism in the region.
appears that the Saudi campaign to silence expressions of Christian anxieties has been effective on the ground. Al-Akhbar has information that there has been a recent Christian trend in Lebanon to
organize a movement in solidarity with the Christians of the town of Maloula in the face of the "invasion" to which it has recently been subjected, however those calling for this activity have
received advice to cancel it out of fears that it might provoke the ire of Riyadh, which was originally roused against the Maronite Patriarchate's statement, and is currently spreading accusations in
international gatherings that Bkerki supports the Syrian regime, in violation of the principle of "self-distancing" practiced by the Lebanese state.
Last week, the Saudi position in Lebanon was continued in Mexico, leb by Riyadh's ambassador in Mexico City, Hussein al-Asiri. The story began on the ninth of this month when the Greek Orthodox Metropolitan of Mexico, Antonius Chedraoui, published in the Mexican newspaper La Reforma,
"Destroy all churches in the Arabian Peninsula"
In March of 2012 the state appointed Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul-Aziz ibn Abdullah Aal ash-Shaikh, who is the highest Sunni Muslim authority in the country called for the destruction of all churches across the Arabian Peninsula. The statement prompted anger and dismay from Christians throughout the Middle East.
the most widely-read newspaper in Mexico, a letter to the world's Christians and to supporters of the Takfiris in the White House, the Elysee, and the Gulf countries, in which he spoke of "a plot to eliminate the Christian presence in the Middle East, under the pretext of supporting the Arab Spring." The Saudi ambassador in Mexico immediately reacted to Chedraoui. In the days following the publication of Chedraoui's message, Ambassador al-Asiri waged a media and diplomatic campaign and applied hidden pressure on Chedraoui, on the newspaper that published his message, and on the television channels that invited him to discuss it.
One day after the publication of the message, the Saudi ambassador went to ambassadors to Mexico from Islamic countries in order to ask them to hold an urgent meeting to present a unified position against the contents of Chedraoui's message and against the Mexican satellite TV channels that hosted him. The Saudi ambassador characterized the journalist Carlos Marin who conducted the interview as being "sympathetic to Israel and Zionism". During the discussion, an opinion emerged at the meeting-- against al-Asiri's opinion, that advised not exaggerating the matter and treating it with wisdom, but the Saudi ambassador insisted that the gathering issue a statement condemning Chedraoui's message and asking the Mexican newspaper that published it and the television station that interviewed Chedraoui to give space to opinions refuting the head of the Orthodox Church in Mexico, as well as proposing the idea of sending a delegation to raise the matter with the Mexican Foreign Ministry in order to make the issue a point of concern for the Mexican government because it "touches upon its interests with the Islamic countries, especially with Saudi Arabia." Al-Asiri, however, was satisfied with the advice from his Lebanese counterpart, Hisham Hamdan, that "exaggerating the issue will lead to widening its media and political scope in Mexico" and he agreed to cancel the idea of raising the issue formally with the Mexican Foreign Ministry, even though he invited the Mexican foreign minister to a special dinner where he encouraged the Mexican state to apply pressure to silence Chedraoui and the media that covered his views.
is worth mentioning in this context Hamdan did not defend the right of his citizen Chedraoui to present his opinion and express his fears. Quite the contrary, he lent his support to the Saudi
ambassador's effort to belittle Chedraoui's message. In order to acheive this, he sent a message to the Lebanese diaspora, the diplomatic community, the Mexican Foreign Ministry and the newspaper La
Reforma wherein he stressed that the Lebanese government distances itself from Chedraoui's message and the positions he expressed in it. The Lebanese ambassador added in his message, just before
closing, that the Lebanese government "condemns terrorism against Christians" even though he followed it directly with "and other civilians, whether in Syria, occupied Palestine, or any place in the
world." He closed-- and here is the bottom line in terms of the Saudi demand-- by stating that "Lebanon does not accept laying blame on Islam or Muslims (...) the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the
countries of the Gulf have also condemned these crimes." He did not forget to mention "the positions of the sister countries of the Gulf alongside Lebanon." The coordination between the Saudi and
Lebanese embassies was prominent to the extent that Hamdan asked al-Asiri give his opinion about the message he was preparing to send to the Mexican Foreign Ministry against Chedraoui.
The services rendered by our ambassador in Mexico for the Saudi kingdom did not stop at this. He even asked concerned parties in Beirut to communicate with the Orthodox patriarch to express support for the Saudi position against Chedraoui's message, on the grounds that it "addressed the Arab countries, especially [naturally!] Saudi Arabia"! Read original in Arabic here
The heads of NATO member states, America, France and the United Kingdom with the King of Saudi Arabia, a strong regional GCC/Gulf ally and major arms purchaser from the West. Saudi Arabia arms and funds Takfiri fighters in Syria.
In a letter to the world's Christians and to supporters of the Takfiris in the White House, the Elysee, and the Gulf countries, Archbishop Chedraoui spoke of "a plot to eliminate the Christian presence in the Middle East, under the pretext of supporting the Arab Spring."
Pope hits out at 'war to sell arms' in Syria prayers. Read more here
Syria: “The Army of Islam”; Saudi Arabia’s Greatest Export. Read more here
A report from Iran’s Press TV “Muslim clerics from all over the world have come to Beirut to take part in a conference focusing on how to deal with extremist groups who kill in the name of Islam. Most speakers stressed that true Islam teaches forgiveness and dialog, not killing. The participants also slammed Takfiris who call most Islamic sects infidels.”