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Lebanese patriarch voices concern over transition in Syria

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.

-NOW Lebanon

For live updates on the Syrian uprising, follow @NOW_Syria on Twitter or click here.

  • hhh

    He is right...Americas has fuelledthis sectarian strife which never existed prior to these protests. AS a christian Syrian, we support Assad. He has ensured there is no division between religions....we dont want no extremisst comnming to power.

    September 18, 2011

  • hans christian iversen

    Rai must be out of his mind. How can you give a regime time that has tortured and killed htier own peole for the past 6 months and years before then and never implemetned any serious democratic reforms or opened up the dialogue for real democracy.

    September 10, 2011

  • Lebanese in Canada

    what is happenning . am i reading this right ? are they sure it's not assem kanso speaking?

    September 8, 2011