ISF Commandos Evacuate Qabbani from al-Khasheqji Mosque as Uproar Erupts over His Arrivalإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Members of the ISF Intelligence Bureau's Strike Force on Sunday managed to evacuate Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani from the al-Khasheqji Mosque after a number of young men erupted in anger over his arrival to take part in the funeral of Mohammed al-Chaar, a 16-year-old teenager who was killed in the bomb attack that targeted ex-minister Mohammed Shatah.
A major commotion broke out inside and outside the mosque as protesters shouted angry slogans in scenes broadcast live by local TV stations.
Security forces carried out several fake evacuations in a bid to divert the attention of the protesters before they managed to secure the safe exit of the mufti in a military armored personnel carrier, amid strict security measures in the area.
Media reports said a Mustaqbal newspaper photographer was injured in the stampede outside the mosque and security forces transferred him to hospital.
“Calm has returned to the vicinity of the al-Khasheqji Mosque and some security forces have started to leave,” MTV reported later.
“A number of young men protested the presence of the mufti ... and Sheikh Ahmed al-Omar led the prayer for the dead,” state-run National News Agency reported earlier on Sunday.
LBCI television said a number of Mustaqbal Movement MPs entered the mosque to persuade the mufti not to lead the prayer and he accepted.
“Young men have gathered outside to express their anger over his presence,” trapping the mufti inside for several hours, LBCI said.
In an earlier interview with LBCI, Jamaa Islamiya official in Beirut Rabih Dandashi said: “We contacted the commander of Beirut Police and we're trying to reach a solution to secure the safe exit of the mufti.”
“It is unacceptable to assault the mufti and Mustaqbal MPs are inside trying to calm down the young men,” said Dandashi.
“We are in charge of the logistics of the funeral and had the mufti sensed the delicacy of the situation, we would've advised him not to come,” he noted.
Meanwhile, Dar al-Fatwa sources told al-Jadeed television that they hold the defense ministry responsible for the safety of the mufti.
The funeral was attended by several Beirut figures, officials, popular delegations and the slain teenager's family and friends.
Chaar was then laid to rest at the nearby Martyrs Cemetery.
The 16-year-old died Saturday of wounds incurred in the Starco bomb attack. A picture of him and three friends taken moments before the explosion has gone viral on social networking websites.
The booby-trapped, golden Honda CRV used in the attack appears behind the teenagers in the picture.
The bomb attack took place on Friday morning in downtown Beirut, leaving Shatah, his bodyguard and six other people dead.