World News in Brief

Lebanon at risk of being sucked into Syrian conflict

The November 12 attack on Beirut “tragically confirms the threat of destabilisation that hangs over Lebanon”, according to Maronite priest Paul Karam, President of Caritas Lebanon.

“If the war continues in Syria, it is inevitable that our country risks being sucked into the vortex,” he said, adding that the effects of the Syrian war are deeply felt in Lebanon. Explaining that the millions of refugees in Lebanon inevitably pose security problems, he told Agenzia Fides, “In such a multitude of desperate people, it is not difficult to imagine that there may be even some of those who have been brainwashed, and are ready to blow themselves up in suicide attacks, causing innocent victims.”

The international community and the regional powers that he said had created the crisis “must stop the conflict in Syria if they really want to prevent all the countries in the area of being infected and destabilised by this crazy war”, he said.

The attack, carried out by two suicide bombers, was the most serious violent action to have taken place in Lebanon in eight years, killing 43 people and injuring at least 239. 


Christian activist shot in Pakistan 

A Christian activist who works to provide free legal aid to poor Pakistani Christians was shot in the legs in late October, it has been revealed.

News of the attack in Lahore on Aslam Masih, a member of the Legal Evangelical Association Development (LEAD), was withheld until now for security reasons.  

The attackers asked Mr Masih to withdraw a complaint that the police had registered and when he refused they shot him. 

LEAD’s director, Sardar Mushtaq Gill, said the attack, the second of its type this year, “is a clear sign of intimidation towards our work”. 


Leading imam condemns attacks

Attacks against places of worship are “against the authentic Islamic religion and its teachings of tolerance”, according to Ahmed al-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of al-Azhar, in the aftermath of an attack on a Cairo church belonging to the Evangelical Coptic community.

Condemning the November 12  attack, in which men on motorcycles shot members of the security forces who were guarding the church, the leading figure in Sunni Islam’s biggest theological academic centre pointed out that that such attacks tended to backfire. 

Instead of frightening people and fostering sectarian divides, he said, they often serve to bolster “the determination of Christians and Muslims to remain united and to support together the fight against terrorism waged by the Egyptian authorities”.


Maltese bishops call for generosity to migrants

Malta’s bishops have thanked European and African leaders gathered at the country’s capital for “the goodwill and commitment being shown with the hope of finding concrete solutions to address the situation concerning migration”.

In a statement sent to those gathered at the migration summit in Valletta, Gozo’s Bishop Mario Grech and Malta’s Archbishop Charles J. Scicluna recalled our “responsibility to work towards guaranteeing respect for everyone’s fundamental rights, especially the weakest and victims of violence, injustice and poverty”.

Urging the countries at the summit to have “a generous openness”, they encouraged Christians to pray that the countries could reach concrete solutions, “conscious that human beings all have a common origin and belonging”.