Maronite Patriarch Bechara Boutros al-Rai said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is “open-minded” as he voiced concern about a transitional phase in Syria.
“There are fears over a transitional phase in Syria that might threaten the Christians of the Middle East,” Rai told AFP in an interview published on Thursday.
“We are not with [the Syrian] regime, but we are worried about a transitional phase, and we must defend the Christians.”
He also said that the Syrian president is “open-minded and has been familiar with Western practices.”
“I am hoping Assad will be given more chances to implement the reforms he already launched,” the patriarch added.
“Assad cannot make miracles [in Syria] alone… [because] he [heads] a big ruling party.”
Lebanon’s political scene is split between supporters of Assad’s regime, led by Hezbollah, and a pro-Western camp headed by Saad Hariri.
Assad’s troops have cracked down on protests against almost five decades of Baath Party rule which broke out mid-March, killing over 2,200 people and triggering a torrent of international condemnation.
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