Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rahi on Sunday called for the removal of “all arms and explosives depots” from Lebanon’s residential areas, in the wake of the Beirut port blast that killed dozens, wounded thousands and devastated swathes of the capital.
“Let Lebanese authorities consider the Beirut port disaster an alarm bell and let them raid all arms and explosives depots and warehouses that exist illegally in the residential neighborhoods of cities, towns and villages,” al-Rahi said in his Sunday Mass sermon.
“Some Lebanese regions have turned into fields of explosives which we do not know when they will blow up or who will detonate them,” the patriarch warned.
“The presence of these depots represents a serious and dangerous threat to the lives of citizens, which do not belong to any person, group, party or organization,” al-Rahi went on to say.
He accordingly called on authorities to “removes these arms and explosives so that citizens can feel safe, at least inside their homes.”
This is clearly a swipe at Hezbollah, but without mentioning its name.
Al-Rahi has tentatively started obliquely criticizing Hezbollah over the past two months, even before the Beirut port explosion, after years of tacit albeit silent support.
He is still explicitly anti-Israel, though.
The Lebanese have been getting braver in their anti-Hezbollah stance, with effigies of Hassan Nasrallah openly being hung during protests – something Hezbollah would never have allowed in the past but it is too frightened to stop now.