Bombings in a crowded civilian shopping area in Beirut, Lebanon, have been responded to by both the Middle East Council of Churches (MECC) and the World Council of Churches (WCC) with expressions of sympathy, outrage and continued resolve to work for peace and stability in the Middle Eastern nation.
The twin bombings on the evening of Thursday 12 November took 41 lives — the largest number of casualties since the Lebanese civil war 25 years ago — and injured more than 200 persons. Responsibility for the bombings was claimed by the so-called ‘Islamic State´.
The statement from MECC, which is based in Beirut, condemned the bombings as terrorist violence and expressed sympathy for the victims. “We ask the Lord to heal the grief and pains of their families, and to bless a rapid recovery for the wounded,” it said.
“The Middle East Council of Churches also calls on all those in charge in Lebanon to overcome internal conflicts among themselves and to be united in front of terrorism, which threatens all the Lebanese regardless of their sectarian and political affiliation.”
WCC general secretary, Rev. Dr Olav Fykse Tveit, also expressed consternation over the violence. “The people of Lebanon have struggled for a generation to build a stable and open democracy. Extremist violence such as this destroys not only precious lives and families but also threatens the social solidarity the Lebanese people have worked so hard to build. It is despicable that such violence is perpetrated in the name of religion. I extend our prayers and our heartfelt sympathy to the victims and their families. And I urge all parties to exercise restraint and to renounce violence and terror in favour of a just and peaceful future for the Lebanese people and all peoples in the region.”
Read the WCC general secretary's letter of solidarity to churches in the Middle East (this letter is also available in Arabic)