Last updated: 14 February, 2014

Lebanon president demands judicial action over ‘Virgin Mary kiss’

Lebanon’s President Michel Sleiman demanded action Friday after a television station aired a photograph of a man kissing a statue of the Virgin Mary and quoting him as saying “she is no longer a virgin.”

Sleiman’s office said he called on the state prosecutor to “consider what appeared on television yesterday,” showing a man called Ali Eitawi kissing a statue of the Virgin and quoting him as making the remark.

Sleiman, himself a Maronite Christian, said the judicial authorities must “take appropriate action” on the matter, without giving further details.

Multifaith Lebanon is considered among the most liberal countries in the Arab world, but its society and institutions are still relatively conservative.

Some 35 percent of its population is Christian and 65 percent Muslim, while there is a tiny number of Jews and members of other faiths, such as Bahais and Buddhists.