Lebanon Apologises for Violence as Christians Express Outrage at Attacks

Lebanon has apologised to Denmark for the burning of its embassy at the weekend during protests against a cartoon of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, in which Christian areas and churches were also attacked.

|PIC1|Sunday’s riots in Beirut and similar outbreaks and attacks on Danish and Norwegian missions in Damascus have been among the worst in the worldwide Muslim protest against cartoons published in a Denmark newspaper, and was also reprinted in some other European newspapers.

The Lebanese government released a statement after a late-night emergency meeting saying, “The cabinet denounces the riots and the targeting of the Danish Embassy which harms the image of a civilised Lebanon. (We) present our apology to the state of Denmark.”

In addition, Lebanese Christians have expressed outrage over riots by Muslim protestors in the Christian Ashrafiyeh district, where a church, as well as cars and shops were destroyed.

Christian leader Samir Geagea stood with several Lebanese politicians, including Druze leader Walid Jumblatt to blame the rioting on pro-Syrian saboteurs, who they said, infiltrated the protests.

According to security sources, more than 300 people have now been arrested, with more than half of them Syrians and Palestinians.

Geagea said, “The Syrians are trying to say that the Lebanese are not capable of ruling themselves,” according to Reuters.

Christians in the region have said that riots have inflamed the sectarian tensions and even stirred back memories of the country’s 1975-1990 civil war.

|TOP|George Zaytouneh, 58, told Reuters near the charred consulate building: “Those who did this were not defending Prophet Mohammad. They don't care about Prophet Mohammad or Jesus Christ.”

Avdes Kazazian, a 45-year-old driver, reported, “I am afraid tension between Muslims and Christians may escalate. It looks like things are heading in this direction.”

Sunday’s violence saw more than 20,000 demonstrators take to the streets, damaging police and army vehicles and 3 fire engines. It is also reported by Reuters that one protestor died after jumping from the third floor of the Danish consulate building as it was engulfed in flames. In addition, police say 33 people, including 21 security men were wounded.

Lebanese Muslim and Christian politicians and religious leaders urged restraint in the aftermath, but on Monday further riots were seen across various cities. However, in urging calm, Muslim leaders were quick to condemn the stoning of a church during Sunday’s violence.

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