Greek-Orthodox archdiocese in Beirut Looted, Vandalized

Crime scene investigators collect evidence from the Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Ashrafieh, Beirut, on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

Crime scene investigators collect evidence from the Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Ashrafieh, Beirut, on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

A crime scene investigator collects evidence from the Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Ashrafieh, Beirut, on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

A crime scene investigator collects evidence from the Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Ashrafieh, Beirut, on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

One of the offices at the vandalized Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Ashrafieh, Beirut, on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

One of the offices at the vandalized Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Ashrafieh, Beirut, on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

A ladder, which the thieves used to scale the wall of the Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Beirut, is seen in this picture on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

A ladder, which the thieves used to scale the wall of the Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Beirut, is seen in this picture on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel (C) met with Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elias Audi (R) at the Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Ashrafieh, Beirut, on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel (C) met with Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elias Audi (R) at the Geek-Orthodox archbishopric in Ashrafieh, Beirut, on Nov. 16, 2011. (Photo: Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

16/11/2011
The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Thieves broke into the Greek-Orthodox archdiocese in Beirut overnight, stealing money from a safe and vandalizing a number of its offices.

“The archdiocese had been sabotaged, destroyed and stolen by unknown vandals,” Father George Dimas told a local radio station Wednesday.

Priests and staff of the Orthodox archdiocese were shocked when they arrived Wednesday morning to find out that the offices had been robbed and vandalized.

Dimas said icons, golden crosses and bishops’ canes were among items that had been looted. The thieves also managed to open a safe, stealing money and ancient documents among its contents, Dimas added.

Security forces sealed off the crime scene in Ashrafieh, preventing reporters and photographers from inspecting the damage until after the evidence had been collected.

MP Michel Murr condemned the attack and called for a sit-in Wednesday inside the church to “[demand] the arrest of the culprits.”

“This attack has not only targeted the Orthodox archbishopric, but the whole Orthodox community,” Murr told a local radio station.

He also called on President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, as well as Lebanese Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwaji and Internal Security Forces chief Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi to take the necessary measures to prevent such acts from reoccurring and punish the perpetrators.

Deputy Speaker Farid Makari, speaking to a local radio station, said the assault was a “message” to Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elias Audi “for his patriotic stances as he always calls for a sovereign and independent Lebanon.”

Audi, for his part, said: “God protects us and the state is constantly vigilant. We hope that the circumstances surrounding this incident will soon be revealed.”

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