Islamist Prisoners' Families Rally at Interior Ministry after Meeting Mufti


Families of Islamist prisoners staged a sit-in Wednesday outside the Interior Ministry in Beirut's Sanayeh area, demanding a general amnesty for their sons.

The families had met earlier in the day with Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Latif Daryan.

During the meeting, phone talks were held with the head of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc ex-PM Fouad Saniora, who “expressed solidarity with the families” and “promised to follow up on their issue with Prime Minister Saad Hariri, who has embraced the families' plight and is, in turn, seeking a solution,” the National News Agency said.

“The first person who demanded a general amnesty that does not exclude anyone was the mufti of the republic,” Daryan told the families.

He noted that he has formed a committee led by Sheikh Mohammed Anis al-Arwadi, the director general of Islamic endowments, to “follow up on the situations of the prisoners and reach a solution for their issue.”

Speaking in the name of the families after the meeting, Sheikh Salem al-Rafehi said the delegation and the mufti had an identical viewpoint.

“We are demanding a comprehensive general amnesty that does not exclude anyone, neither from our sect nor from other sects, and this stance is irreversible,” al-Rafehi added.

“We call on the president to endorse this general amnesty to turn the page on a previous period that witnessed an undeclared civil war, and usually there comes an amnesty after every war, the same as happened in the past,” the cleric went on to say.

“The mufti will endorse this file and exert efforts with the politicians so that it can be finalized before the elections,” al-Rafehi added.

The families have staged several protests in recent days. The protests coincide with a hunger strike that the Islamist prisoners had started on Thursday.

The hunger strike followed a call from detained Islamist cleric Khaled Hoblos.

Addressing President Michel Aoun, Speaker Nabih Berri and Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Hoblos called in an audio recording for “finding a solution for thousands of detainees from all sects.”

“We, the detainees in Lebanese prisons, are resuming our hunger strike under the slogan Freedom or Death,” Hoblos says in the audio recording.

Lebanese authorities have rounded up hundreds of Sunni Islamists over the last years, including some involved in bombings against civilians and deadly clashes with the Lebanese Army. They also include extremists believed to belong to al-Qaida-linked groups and the Islamic State group.

A lot of Islamist prisoners and their families have decried delay in judicial procedures and trials. Some prisoners are held for several years without trial or conviction.

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