Orthodox Gathering sets up committee for Expats

The Daily Star

BEIRUT: The Orthodox Gathering established a new committee Wednesday to follow up on the community’s affairs in different countries around the world.

The gathering, a group of businessmen, politicians and Greek Orthodox clerics, was formed earlier this year in protest against what they called the marginalization of the Greek Orthodox sect in Lebanon.

“We are working on a new electoral law that best represents Lebanese communities … the gathering will try to agree on a law that will ensure equal representation,” former MP Elie Ferzli told reporters during the meeting.

Ferzli said that there are many attempts to stall the talks on a new electoral law so that the country would be forced to hold its upcoming elections based on the existing law. “They are working to keep the current law to keep Christian representation as it is,” said Ferzli, adding that the Orthodox community is disadvantaged the most by it.

The meeting was also attended by Mexico, Venezuela and Central America’s Archbishop Antonios al-Shedrawi and Akkar’s Archbishop Basilios Mansour, in addition to several former MP Albert Matta.

For his part, Archbishop Mansour reiterated that the gathering supports an electoral law that would allow each sect to vote for its representatives.

“I am with an electoral law that allows every sect to vote for its MPs … this is what helps fix the current situation,” said Mansour who also said that the Greek Orthodox sect is left out of decision making institutions.

Mansour also said that a law that would allow sects to vote for their MPs is not a sectarian one. “Such a law is not a sectarian one, but it aims to restore the rights [of the community],” Mansour added.

According to Mansour, all Orthodox MPs who would be elected under such a law would represent all Lebanese and not only the Orthodox community.