CHOUF: Unidentified individuals desecrated a Christian grave in Jiyyeh Thursday, and religious figures and residents denied any sectarian motives were at play.
The vandals entered a Christian cemetery in the town, on the coast of the Chouf, and dug out the body of George Philip al-Kazzi, who had passed away on July 23, 2002.
The cemetery belonged to the Saint George Church and the five doors on Kazzi’s grave were broken. The body of the deceased was pulled out and its skull had been struck.
Head of the Saint Charbel convent Father Salim Nammour, confirmed the attack was not the first he’d encountered.
“This is the third attack in 10 years. We stayed silent in previous years so we wouldn’t give a sectarian aspect to this barbaric attack targeting our dead,” he said. “If there’s a message to convey, then we’ve received it.”
However, he cast off the involvement of Jiyyeh Muslims in the incident, saying the town was an example for coexistence and peace.
“We can’t think this way … We bury the dead of our fellow Muslims and they bury our dead,” he said, confirming the importance of Christian Muslim coexistence and stressing his support for the Church.
Muslim religious figures also denounced the act and Vice President of the Higher Islamic Shiite Council Sheikh Abdel-Amir Qabalan described it as “barbaric.” “This is a dangerous act … it relates to no religion or humanity and cannot be logically accepted,” he said, calling for harsh sanctions for the culprits.
Qabalan added that the desecration of a cemetery was rejected by Islam and by any religion or reasoning.
The desecrated grave was discovered in the morning by a woman visiting the cemetery and religious figures reported the incident, describing the grave as “clearly tampered with.”
Security forces arrived at the scene and launched a probe in the case, as Jiyyeh locals strongly condemned the incident.
Head of the Iqlim al-Kharoub municipalities union Mohammad Habnajar rejected any sectarian motives behind the act, stressing the region was a symbol of religious coexistence.
He asked security forces to follow-up on the case to prevent any similar incidents from occurring and described the perpetrators as “people who want to instigate strife.”
Jiyyeh Mayor George Kazzi and Jiyyeh Mukhtar Albert Hatem both hoped the attack was isolated and not organized by a certain party, and confirmed the strong religious coexistence between Jiyyeh locals.
For their part, representatives of political parties denounced the attack and Progressive Socialist Party official Salim al-Sayyed confirmed the party’s support for Jiyyeh locals.
The Future Movement also voiced its support for the residents and condemned the attack, along with Hizbullah and the Amal movement.
Mayor of the neighboring village of Jadra, Father Josef Kazzi, also condemned the act but said it “won’t affect civil peace and coexistence.”