The Grand Mufti of Lebanon has said he’s totally against anyone exiling Christians from their homes in the Middle East.
In an exclusive interview with Premier, Sheikh Abdel Latif Deryan, who’s the most senior Sunni Muslim cleric, said Christians should be free to live peacefully in Iraq and Syria.
On his visit to the UK to meet religious leaders and promote interfaith values, he said: “We are totally against anyone trying to exile Christians from their homes.
“What we would say to the Christians is – these are your homes and these are your lands as well. So stand fast to live as you should be living on your own land, on the premises of coexistence and love.”
During the visit, the Grand Mufti also visited Leicester to see local projects which are trying to prevent Muslims being radicalised. While in London, he held meetings with both Prince Charles and the Archbishop of Canterbury Most Revd Justin Welby where the persecution of Christians in the region was addressed.
On his talks with the archbishop, he said: “It was a fruitful meeting as we think exactly the same way about the relationship between Islam and Christianity.
“I invited him to Lebanon because I think it’s going to be very important for the Archbishop of Canterbury to feel for himself what is going on in Lebanon.
“Lebanon is a country which has gathered all those different types of religions and I believe if the Archbishop should visit he would witness himself this coexistence between the different sects.”
Lebanon has so far resisted the advances of Islamic State militants. The country is seen as one of the few in the region where different religions live harmoniously.
It’s the only Arab state that is not officially Muslim. Around 35% of the country are said to be Christians.