Mufti of Sidon Sheikh Ahmed Nassar on Wednesday warned that "the seditions that have been moving from one Lebanese area to another, especially those of a sectarian nature," have spread to the southern city of Sidon.
The city has become under the mercy of "a few individuals who have criminal records and who have been provided with paid protection," Nassar said.
"They escalated tensions in Sidon and its suburbs through stirring clashes and deliberate provocations without any deterrence or accountability, so a battle erupted and things went out of control across Sidon as gunmen from all parties and sides deployed on the streets," he added.
One person was killed and at least four others were wounded in armed clashes on Tuesday between supporters of Islamist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir and the Hizbullah-affiliated Resistance Brigades.
"Who will the security deterioration serve, for whose sake blood was spilled and on what basis the fighting stopped? It is the policy of local and regional political messages and the works of puppets being manipulated by unseen hands in Lebanon and abroad," the Sunni Muslim mufti added.
“We reject sedition which only serves the goals of the merchants of arms, blood and interests and we consider that involvement in stirring sedition is haram (forbidden in Islam), just like taking part in it,” Nassar went on to say.
He called on the army and security forces to “strike with the hand of right and justice those who transgressed against citizens and who are well-known sedition advocates, or else people will continue to take things into their own hands.”
Meanwhile, a meeting for Sidon's Sunni Muslim scholars condemned “the regrettable security incidents that happened yesterday and led to the martyrdom of an innocent citizen and the wounding of several others.”
“The firing of shells proves that there are parties who do not value human life and civil peace, and the deployment of gunmen is a rejected act,” said a statement issued after the meeting and recited by Bassam Hammoud, the political official of the Jamaa Islamiya in the South.
“Groups operating under the banner of the Resistance must be quickly disbanded and gunmen must be deployed under any pretext and the state must not abandon its responsibilities,” added the statement.
It warned that some parties are seeking to “turn Haret Saida into a 'new Jabal Mohsen' in the face of Sidon's residents.”
It called on political parties to “rein in their members in order to prevent strife.”
The city's MP Bahia Hariri also held a press conference on Wednesday afternoon to comment on Tuesday's events.
“The repercussions of Sidon's events are harsh on the city and on Lebanon,” Hariri warned, stressing that political conflicts should be “democratic and avoid turning into armed clashes.”
The al-Mustaqbal lawmaker stated her rejection of "all illegal arms in the city and of politically covering the perpetrators."
She vowed to work hard to avoid the recurrence of these incidents.
“Huge efforts are exerted to prevent a recurrence of this abnormal situation and the state should take action against anyone who took part in it.”
“Sidon will always be a city of religious coexistence.”
Earlier on Wednesday, the Sub-Security Council of Sidon deplored “the rhetoric of sectarian sedition that is being practiced by some well-known parties.”
After a meeting in the southern city, the sub-council called on political officials to “lift the cover off the gunmen who took part in yesterday's clashes and to help the state preserve security.”
The conferees also condemned "the irresponsible acts and the meaningless fighting that took place yesterday in the Abra region, which disrupted calm, paralyzed the commercial and economic activity and terrorized the citizens."
"No one can stay silent over this issue at all given its dangerous repercussions on civil peace," they added.
The sub-council stressed that it will "prevent all armed activities by any party," urging political forces to "shoulder their responsibilities and resort to the rhetoric of reason and the principle of the state."
It also decided to "intensify security patrols in the city of Sidon and the areas of the clashes, especially the Abra area, to preserve security and stability,” reminding that “banners that incite sectarian sentiments must be removed.”
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