Lebanese patriarch makes historic visit to Saudi Arabia

Patriarch Beshara al-Rai heads the Maronite church, which has a presence in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus and follows an Eastern rite of the Roman Catholic church.

By REUTERS
November 13, 2017 21:59
1 minute read.
Lebanese patriarch makes historic visit to Saudi Arabia

Maronite Patriarch Beshara al-Rai. (photo credit: FINBARR O'REILLY / REUTERS)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

RIYADH - Lebanon's Christian Maronite Patriarch arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, with his historic visit to the kingdom under even greater scrutiny amid serious political tensions between the countries.

Patriarch Beshara al-Rai heads the Maronite church, which has a presence in Lebanon, Syria and Cyprus and follows an Eastern rite of the Roman Catholic church. Maronites number about 900,000 in Lebanon, around a quarter of the population.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


An official visit to Saudi Arabia by such a senior figure marks a rare act of religious openness for Riyadh, which hosts the holiest sites in Islam and bans the practice of other religions, but says it wants to open up more to the world.

During his visit, Rai is expected to meet King Salman, his son and heir-apparent, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Saad al-Hariri, who has been in Riyadh since resigning as Lebanese prime minister on Nov. 4.

Top Lebanese government officials and senior sources close to Hariri believe Saudi Arabia coerced Hariri into resigning and has put him under effective house arrest since he flew to Saudi Arabia more than a week ago.

Hariri said in a television interview on Sunday that he was a free man and would return to Lebanon within days to affirm that he had resigned. He said Lebanon was at risk of Gulf Arab sanctions because of the Shi'ite group Hezbollah's regional meddling.

Rai, whose trip was in the works before the latest political crisis in his country, will take a message to Saudi Arabia that "Lebanon cannot handle conflict," his spokesman said last week.

JPOST VIDEOS THAT MIGHT INTEREST YOU:


Hariri's resignation and its aftermath have thrust Lebanon back to the forefront of the conflict between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shi'ite Iran and destabilized the country, where Sunni, Shi'ite, Christian and Druze factions fought a civil war from 1975-1990, often backed by rival powers around the region.

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Turkey Investigating Khashoggi Murder
October 19, 2018
Leaks, media and the Khashoggi affair

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN