Lebanon’s former Maronite Christian patriarch Sfeir dies

In this file photo taken on June 16, 2010, Lebanese Maronite Cardinal Nasrallah Boutros Sfeir arrives at the Elysee Palace in Paris, before a meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. (AFP)
Updated 12 May 2019
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Lebanon’s former Maronite Christian patriarch Sfeir dies

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s Maronite Christian church says its former patriarch, Cardinal Nasrallah Butros Sfeir, has died after several days in hospital. He was 98.
Sfeir, an outspoken and feisty personality, served as spiritual leader of Lebanon’s largest Christian community through some of the worst days of the 1975-90 civil war.
He then played a key role in shaping the country’s postwar politics as one of the most prominent Christian leaders in the mostly Muslim region.
The former patriarch passed away early Sunday at a Beirut hospital. The church issued a statement saying “The Maronite church is orphaned and Lebanon is in sadness.”
Cardinal Bechara Rai, who succeed Sfeir in 2011, called on churches to ring their bells and hold prayers for the late leader.


Syrian journalist claims torture, humiliation at hands of Turkish forces while crossing border

Updated 34 min 24 sec ago
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Syrian journalist claims torture, humiliation at hands of Turkish forces while crossing border

  • According to Al-Shami in his video, he was arrested with two of his children
  • 419 Syrian civilians – among them 75 children and 38 women – have been killed trying to cross the border since conflict began

LONDON: A Syrian journalist has claimed on his YouTube channel that he has been assaulted and beaten by Turkish forces on the Syria-Turkey border.
Mazen Al-Shami posted a video to the social media network and also posted on Facebook, saying: “After nine years of the revolution, that is how my family and I are treated.
“A Turkish officer tortured me in front of my family and tortured my children on the Syria-Turkey border, it was his reaction when he found out I was a Syrian journalist.”

Mazen Al-Shami was visibly distraught in the video. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Al-Shami ended the post with the hashtags #Thank_You_Turkey and #Thank_You_Hotel_Opposition with a number of photos containing the injuries sustained by him and his son as a result of the assault.
According to Al-Shami in his video, he was arrested with two of his children along with other civilians as they tried to cross the border into Turkey from the Syrian Idlib region.

Al-Shami proceeds to show wounds he says he received at the hands of Turkish forces while trying to cross the Syria-Turkey border. (Screenshot/YouTube)

The Association of Syrian Journalists, which represents journalists opposed to the Bashar Assad regime, quoted Al-Shami as saying: “The opposition did not respond to my request to enter Turkey for a follow-up to my medical treatment.”
The association added that Al-Shami was beaten and severely tortured with “metal rods, iron chains and agricultural hand tools.”

According to the Association of Syrian Journalists, Al-Shami was tortured with metal rods, iron chains and agricultural hand tools. (Screenshot/YouTube)

Hundreds of Syrian activists have responded to the incident, saying the officer responsible must be held accountable and that the Turkish army is constantly targeting civilians trying to cross the border from Syria.
In a recent report, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights confirmed that 419 Syrian civilians – among them 75 children and 38 women – have been killed trying to cross the border since the start of the country’s ongoing conflict.