Muslim Ulemas Regain Sidon's Bilal bin Rabah Mosqueإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
A delegation of Muslim Ulemas, headed by Sidon Mufti Sheikh Salim Sousan, regained on Saturday control of the southern city's Bilal bin Rabah mosque.
The delegation toured the complex that was damaged in the clashes between the army and the mosque's Imam Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir on Sunday and Monday.
Sousan said: “This mosque taught the people peace and stability. It will once again regain its role in the Muslim community.”
“The army and the rest of the city's officials will cooperate in order to restore order and normal life in Sidon,” he stressed.
Asked by reporters about the discovery of weapons at the mosque, the mufti replied: “We oppose the illegitimate arms and support the army. We demand a society of law and order.”
Asked about the people's anger about the clashes, he responded: “Aren't they entitled to be angry given the destruction in their city?”
“Israel is our only enemy,” declared Sousan.
Commenting on the arrests made in the aftermath of the clashes, he said: “Some of the suspects may be innocent and others may be guilty. I predict that several of them will be released in the upcoming days.”
“The fact that someone is religious does not make them a terrorist,” he emphasized.
He then announced that the mosque will be reopened in the future and that Sheikh Mohammed Abou Zeid will become its new imam.
Eighteen soldiers were killed and 50 were wounded in clashes between the army and armed supporters of al-Asir in Sidon on Sunday and Monday.
Meanwhile, State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr, who is overseeing the Lebanese Army Intelligence's investigation with the detained suspects, acquitted 29 arrested men on Saturday and handed over the apartment of al-Asir to its owners.
By this, the number of acquitted detainees has reached 101, while 40 are still in jail.
More than 20 of al-Asir's supporters were killed, according to a security official.
Dozens of them were also arrested, but there was no sign of the cleric.
The Ulemas accused on Wednesday Hizbullah fighters of taking part in the battles alongside the army, despite assertions by various officials that the army acted alone in combating the gunmen.
The army on Thursday handed over a group of soldiers accused of abusing a detainee to the military police for questioning, a military source and the state-run National News Agency said.
The move came after amateur video emerged showing a group of soldiers humiliating, beating and kicking a man suspected of supporting al-Asir.