Shiite cleric Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah called on Friday on the Lebanese to renounce sectarianism in their politics and fighting and instead embrace knowledge, tolerance and nationalism, reported the Daily Star.
"People say that the main problem gripping Lebanon is religion. I say the problem of Lebanon is the lack of religion because most Lebanese are sectarian, not religious. And it's well known that sectarianism is a product of tribalism and ignorance," he was quoted as saying.
"Our main problem might lie in the fact that we're too emotional in our political and social lives," said Fadlallah. "Although our feelings are sacred to us, we should temper our emotions with reason."
Fadlallah made his call for higher tolerance and patriotism while speaking at a ceremony in Jbeil, where he laid the cornerstone for an Islamic center in the largely Christian hinterland, said the daily.
"When we decided to set up a center that married the mosque to the school we were not working out of sectarian beliefs," Fadlallah noted.
Fadlallah maintained that now that Lebanon has defeated the Israelis militarily, its task is to catch up with their extensive technological capabilities.
"Let's make our country a land of learning not conflict," he said.
"Israel has become important for a number of great powers due to its technical know-how," he added.
Fadlallah urged the government to stem the brain drain that has allowed other countries to tap into the talents of Lebanese, who find few opportunities at home.
"Go to America and see how it has bought our brains. You'll find many Arabs there. But they're no longer Arabs because our regimes have been unable to bestow their confidence to the Arab scientist, who hasn't been able to make use of his talents back home," said Fadlallah.
At any rate, Fadlallah said, many Lebanese are not climbing the scientific ladder because they are too preoccupied with their sectarian loyalties.
"I always see sectarian people looking out for borders, demography and his sect's distinctive traits," Fadlallah observed. "But I see no one caring about Lebanon. All of us revert back to our sectarian affiliation, not bothering to speak about unity and nationality."
The cleric called on all Lebanese, Muslims and Christians, to fight sectarianism and close any place of worship that fanatically adheres to its sect, said the daily.
"Every fanatical mosque and church should be shut. When we want to worship God, nature should be our temple," he added.
Fadlallah accused the Lebanese of being liars, saying parliamentarians were engaging in meaningless discussions instead of working for public good, the Daily Star said.
"Why do we find our Parliament always engaged in empty talk between loyalists and opposition?" he wondered.
"Exchanging lies in Lebanon is what hurled the country into civil war. Please beware those who pass around the country as if it were a ball ... as if each one wants to score more points than the other," said Fadlallah - Albawaba.com
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)