|Bishop George Saliba|
DOHA • Christians in the Middle East have harmonious relations with their Muslim neighbours and they are different from those in the West in this respect, says Bishop George Saliba, Archbishop of Syrian Orthodox who is based in Lebanon.
Saliba is heading the Christian side at the fifth Doha Conference of Interfaith Dialogue being held at the Marriott hotel.
Talking to The Peninsula on the sidelines of the conference, Saliba was blunt in his criticism of leaders in the West and declared his solidarity with the Arab Muslims on regional issues like Iraq and Palestine.
“Leaders in the West are not Christians in the true sense. They are interested only in political gains. We condemn what they have been doing with the people of Iraq and other countries," said Saliba.
He said, Christians in the Middle East have very good relations with their Muslim neighbours and they don't face the problems seen in some other parts of the world.
"We (Christians and Muslims) in the Middle East are living in perfect harmony, sharing the same language, culture and traditions. This is especially true with countries like Syria and Lebanon," he said.
Whatever small problems exist, they are not caused by religious leaders but by politicians who are exploiting religion for political gains, he added.
He added that he has the right to say this, in his capacity as general secretary of the Holy Synod and a member of the Executive Council of the Middle East Christian churches. He, said he had been a regular participant of the Doha Conference since its launch.
Commenting on the Iraq issue, Salibi said, the Americans and Israelis have joined together to destabilise the country and keep its people under occupation.
"But they (the Americans) will not be able to continue in Iraq for ever. They will be forced to leave the country under pressure from resistance of the Iraqi people," he said. Airing similar views of Palestine, he said, "We support the Palestinians' struggle to defend their rights. Palestine will be liberated."
Asked how the dialogue would become fruitful amidst tensions and conflicts, he said, “dialogue is the best way to find solutions. We should talk to people of all kinds and beliefs."
He observed that the Doha conference which has now entered into the fifth year has become instrumental in promoting dialogue between the three prominent religions in the world.