Qabbani Rejects Army Defection Calls, Warns Sidon Incident Boosts Sedition

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Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani rejected on Monday calls on Sunnis to defect the army, saying they promote sedition and leads to chaos.

“It's not allowed to engage in battles with the army under any pretexts,” Qabbani said in a statement.

He appealed in a televised speech on the Lebanese to hold on to the army, stressing that “those who were responsible for the assault on the army should be held accountable.”

Qabbani said that the “security chaos in (the southern city of) Sidon and the (northern city of) Tripoli aims at distracting the army from its main duty along the border.”

At least twelve Lebanese soldiers were killed in less than 24 hours in clashes with supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir in the Sidon suburb of Abra.

Asir had appealed to his supporters through his Twitter account in other parts of Lebanon to rise to his help, threatening to widen the scale of clashes.

Abra is home to a mosque, Bilal bin Rabah, where Asir leads the main weekly prayers on Fridays. The sheikh believes Hizbullah uses apartments in Abra to keep him under surveillance.

He also says the Lebanese army has provided cover to Hizbullah, whose members are fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar Assad's troops against rebels.

Asir was unknown until around two years ago, when he gained prominence for his opposition to Hizbullah and its ally Assad.

The military urged political leaders in Sidon to choose sides and to stand either alongside the army, or with "those who promote strife and the killing of troops".

The Sidon clashes spilled over other Lebanese regions on Sunday, as roads were blocked in the North, Bekaa and Beirut.

On Monday, gunmen have been roaming the streets of Tripoli in a show of support to al-Asir, reported the National News Agency.

Comments 5
Thumb eagledawn 24 June 2013, 14:46

Dear Mufti: very decent words coming from a person who himself does not respect the authority of the state. Your disregard for the decisions of the state regarding dar fatwa matters highlights your double standards.

Thumb benzona 24 June 2013, 14:57

Not to mention that he is an impostor himself.

Default-user-icon trueleb (Guest) 24 June 2013, 14:56

Shiite or Sunni, they're both scum they are two wings of the same bird. This country will be better off when the fanatics of both sects learn their place, lay down their arms, and leave if a free Lebanon does not suit them.

Thumb lebanon_first 24 June 2013, 15:48

Well said. We cannot let the extremists, 20% of sunnites or 5% of lebanese dictate our policy. Let it be known whaat their size is and who is with them.

Thumb lebanon_first 24 June 2013, 16:39

estimates...