[QODLink]
Archive
Lebanese Christians hold mass rally
Tens of thousands of Lebanese have attended an annual mass to commemorate Christian fighters killed in the 1975-90 civil war and to hear a speech by the Lebanese Forces party leader, Samir Geagea.
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2006 14:18 GMT
Geagea was released from prison in 2005
Tens of thousands of Lebanese have attended an annual mass to commemorate Christian fighters killed in the 1975-90 civil war and to hear a speech by the Lebanese Forces party leader, Samir Geagea.

Crowds flocked to a cathedral in Harissa, north of Beirut, to attend the mass on Sunday.

The rally came two days after hundreds of thousands attended a demonstration in Beirut organised by the Shia Muslim militia, Hezbollah, to celebrate what it called its recent "victory" over Israel in the month-long conflict.

Geagea said: "We are the victors, and yet we do not feel it was victory but rather that a real catastrophe befell our country, and that our fate and destiny are at the mercy of the winds."

Supporters waved his picture, and the white, red and green flags of the Lebanese Forces as the party leader spoke at the shrine of the Virgin Mary in Harissa.

"We are the victors because it was us who were demanding the [Lebanese] army's deployment [in south Lebanon], backed by Unifil [peacekeepers], while they were opposed," he said without naming Hezbollah.

Murder charges

Geagea is a member of the anti-Syrian "March 14" parliamentary group that has criticised Hezbollah's capture of two Israeli soldiers on July 12 and has called for the group to disarm.

Hezbollah chief Nasrallah wants
a new government in place

It was the first service he had attended after he was released from prison last year after serving more than a decade on multiple murder charges from the war.

The former militia leader had not attended the annual mass for 12 years because of his imprisonment.

He was arrested in April 1994 and his group was banned, after a church bombing that killed 10 people.

Imprisoned

Gegea was later acquitted in the bombing but sentenced to three life terms on several other murder counts, including the killing of Rashid Karami, the pro-Syrian prime minister in 1987.

Geagea served 11 years in prison before he was released in July 2005, after Lebanon's parliament approved a motion to pardon him.

He led the Lebanese Forces - the country's most powerful Christian militia during the Lebanese civil war.

Israel backed his militia during the war, and during the Israeli invasion in 1982 to expel Palestinian guerrillas.

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.