For over two week the Maronite Church has been involved in strenuous efforts to reclaim large areas of land which has been taken over by part of the Shiite population of Lassa, a village in the district of Jbeil Mount Lebanon. The affair erupted when official land surveyors tried survey land on which stands a chapel dedicated to Our Lady. Since 2011 the building has been used, against the advice of the Church as a place of worship for women. In spite of all the past efforts to regulate this sensitive and highly symbolic issue the chapel key was never returned to the Church. For several days the population has prevented the team, with the threat of arms, from carrying out the survey.
The conflict has ancient roots, some details date as far back as the nineteenth century. So the Shiites population claims that the Maronite chapel was already a Shiite place of worship. The Maronite Patriarchate, for its part argues that the plot of land was purchased by the Maronite Church in the nineteenth century, as supported by documents such as title deeds and cadastral surveys dating to 1939.
These are the facts that the Church seeks to confirm today, once and for all, with the help of the Lebanese state. The use of threats by the Shiite population of Lassa has awakened feelings of confessional hostility in Maronite environments. Nurtured by certain personalities this anger has begun to manifest itself. To avoid exacerbating these feelings the patriarchate of Bkerke called a meeting involving all parties concerned, including representatives of Hezbollah and the Amal Shiite movement.
Hezbollah negotiating? Yeah, I’m sure a terrorist group is going to respect some XIXth century documents…