BEIRUT: Hundreds of people gathered on Monday at the Collège Notre-Dame de Jamhour (Beirut) for the annual interfaith ceremony held on the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.
Participants celebrated diversity, including disability, as an invaluable element of beauty and enrichment, and condemned the violence and suffering caused by extremism and terrorism in Lebanon, and elsewhere in the Middle East.
The solemnity marks the moment when the Archangel Gabriel revealed to the Virgin Mary that she would become the mother of Jesus, the Saviour. Six years ago, the Lebanese government declared the day a shared Christian-Muslim national holiday, and it has been celebrated as such ever since.
Some 30 associations, congregations and groups sponsored the interfaith meeting, Lebanese French language dailyL’Orient-Le Jour reported. Leading Lebanese and people from other parts of the Arab world took part in the event.
Speaking on behalf of the Lebanon’s chief Mufti, the Mufti of Sidon Salim Soussan stressed moderation and rejected extremism and terrorism as a choice for Lebanese Muslims as well as other Lebanese. Equally, he expressed hope for a “strong and fair” state.
Nagy Khoury, a former student leader in Lebanon’s Catholic schools and current secretary general of Christian-Muslim meeting, said, “The world’s beauty lies in its diversity.” In such diversity, there are also “physical differences”, in particular disabilities because, “each handicap bears a message, and each message has a priceless human value”.
Stressing this year’s theme, unity in diversity with people who live with a handicap, he called on participants to observe a minute of silence “for the victims of hatred and terrorism” in Turkey, Belgium, France, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, etc.