Orthodox, Maronites warn Christians not to sell land

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius IV Hazim, center, attends a religious service at Saint George Orthodox Cathedral in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

Patriarch of Antioch and All the East Ignatius IV Hazim, center, attends a religious service at Saint George Orthodox Cathedral in Beirut, Lebanon, Monday, Nov. 14, 2011. (Mohammad Azakir/The Daily Star)

The Daily Star
12/1/2012

BEIRUT: The Maronite League expressed its concern Wednesday over the sharp increase in land sales in Christian districts in Lebanon, as Greek Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius IV Hazim called for discouraging and preventing such sales.

In a statement issued after a meeting of its executive council, the League expressed “its concern over the continuous and sharp increase in land-buying in Christian districts by foreigners or Lebanese in an obvious plan to cause geographic and demographic changes in districts.”

The statement warned against “the negative reflection of this phenomenon on the national level.”

“The [desire for] coexistence and eroding the presence of Christians as a result of the organized ‘attack’ on the properties of Christians cannot go togther,” the statement said.

The League reiterated calls by Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai regarding this matter, adding that its committee would monitor the process of “nibbling away at … land” and seek to curb it.

For his part, Hazim said the sale of Christians’ land should be discouraged, even prevented, reflecting his long-standing beliefs on the issue.

“We have been preventing the sale of land for years … and there has been no talk of such activity for a long time,” Hazim added, after receiving Alaaeddine Terro, the minister for the displaced, at the patriarchate in Balamand.

Hazim was adamant that the patriarchate was not engaged in the practice. “I am the only person who signs sales transactions in Syria and Lebanon. I do not sell at all; we will not sell the country,” he said.

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