Asir's Supporters Protest in Sidon, Attack TV Crewsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Hundreds of men and women supporting Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir marched from Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque after Friday prayers, heading to al-Karameh roundabout in the southern city of Sidon.
The protestors assaulted TV crews in Abra, smashing the windows of their cars and breaking their cameras during the march.
The attack prompted the Lebanese army to ask journalists to leave Sidon and the northern city of Tripoli until the end of the protest in the southern city which allegedly erupted after the mosque's new Imam, Sheikh Mohammed Abu Zeid, did not mention al-Asir when he delivered his sermon to worshippers.
Tripoli has a large presence of Islamists. The city's Ulemas have accused the army of collaborating with Hizbullah to target the Sunni community in line with an Iranian scheme.
Al-Asir, a 45-year-old cleric who is no where to be found since last month's deadly gunbattles between his gunmen and the Lebanese army, resurfaced Thursday in an alleged audio message in which he described the clashes as a plot against him.
The cleric called on the Sunni community to “break the barrier of fear and fear only God,” urging them to protest “in a peaceful and civilized manner” after Friday prayers “in coordination with the Muslim clerics.”
State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged on Thursday 27 people for their involvement in the Abra battles where Bilal Bin Rabah mosque is located.
Ten of them were charged in absentia, including al-Asir and a onetime prominent singer-turned Salafist Fadel Shaker.
The cleric teamed up with Shaker when around two years ago he began agitating for Hizbullah to disarm.
If convinced, the suspects face the death penalty.