American officials denounced the burning of a Christian leader's library in Tripoli, Lebanon on January 3 as based on false pretenses and said it's a threat to religious liberty, the Christian Post website reports today (January 7, 2014).
"The really bad news is that this is not out of the ordinary," Robert George -- chair of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) -- told the Christian Post. George emphasized the need to advocate for religious freedom across the world to prevent attacks like this one.
The fire burned two-thirds of some 80,000 books and manuscripts in the Al-Saeh library owned by Greek Orthodox priest Ibrahim Surouj. The arsonists targeted Surouj due to an alleged pamphlet insulting the Prophet Mohammed being found in one of the library books. When Surouj met with Islamic leaders in the city, he stated that he had nothing to do with the pamphlet.
International Security Forces Brig. Imad Ayyoubi also denounced the connection. "Father Surouj has nothing to do with the article and the source of the website is from Denmark and was published on January 7, 2010," Ayyoubi said. Hundreds of Lebanese citizens have demonstrated in support of the priest.