Lebanon an example of peaceful coexistence, Christian and Muslim leaders say

Christian and Muslim leaders met with Lebanese government officials at Notre Dame University Louaize in Zouk Mosbeh on July 1 to highlight Lebanon as an example of peaceful coexistence among people of different faiths.

(REUTERS / Omar Sanadiki)Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai speaks to members of the Christian community during a mass in a two day visit in Damascus June 7, 2015.

The gathering in Zouk Mosbeh was headed by Lebanese Cardinal Bechara Rai, the patriarch of Maronite Catholics, as a follow-up to two events held at the al-Azhar University in Egypt earlier this year. During the meeting, the religious leaders said the improving state of democracy in Lebanon offers a "message of hope to the Arabs and to the world," the Catholic News Service relayed.

The participants in the meeting last week included Archbishop Gabriele Caccia, the Vatican ambassador to Lebanon; Al Azhar deputy of the grand imam Sheik Abbas Shouman; Christian and Islamic scholars, Lebanese officials, and representatives of the Sunni, Shiite and Druze communities in the country. These leaders also declared they would like to visit Christian and Islamic institutions, and to cooperate with them amid the ongoing religious violence in various places in the Middle East.

"We should do everything we can for Lebanon to remain aware of the seriousness and importance of the Lebanese experience and its relevance to the Arabs and to the international community in a strong and clear manner," the delegates said.

Lastly, the participants in the conference said Lebanon should be established as the official center for interfaith and intercultural dialogues. They also called on Christian and Muslim educational institutions to find ways to cooperate in their sector and launch joint programs that foster religious coexistence.

The gathering of religious leaders to promote peaceful coexistence is a step towards improvement, considering that a recently published WIN/Gallup International survey conducted at the end of 2016 suggested that Lebanon is one of the countries where people believe religious and racial superiority exist. The other countries in the same category are Paraguay, Bangladesh, Ghana, Nigeria, Indonesia, Macedonia, and the Palestinian territories, Bloomberg reported.

According to the majority of the respondents across 66 countries, there is no racial, religious, or cultural superiority. However, Gallup International Association president Kancho Stoychev said the problem exists in countries with internal or external conflicts.