HIC Row Ongoing as Qabbani, Mesqawi Hold Separate Meetings

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Two separate meetings for the Higher Islamic Council were held on Saturday, the first was chaired by Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani in Dar al-Fatwa, while the second was held at al-Amin mosque and headed by his deputy Sheikh Omar Mesqawi, amid the lingering dispute over the extension of the term of the HIC.

The Council is divided between the members led by the Mufti and those headed by Mesqawi.

The HIC meeting, which was headed by Mesqawi, decided to make Mohammed al-Amin mosque in Downtown Beirut as a temporary headquarter for its meetings.

Sheikh Khaldoun Araymet told LBCI that the meeting tackled the Islamic situation in the region and called for the release of the 12 nuns, who were kidnapped in the Syrian historic town of Maalula.

The HIC council also praised the stances of President Michel Suleiman, who slammed the criticism directed against Saudi Arabia by some officials in Lebanon, rejecting meddling in the affairs of other countries, hinting at statements by Hizbullah Chief Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

Araymet said that the council decided to meet at al-Amin mosque after Qabbani rejected granting it permission to meet at Adar al-Fatwa.

Meanwhile, another meeting for a second HIC council chaired by Qabbani in Dar al-Fatwa welcomed a security plan carried out by the Lebanese army in the northern city of Tripoli.

The council called on the state and the political powers in Tripoli to end the chaos in the city by lowering their rhetoric and resolving their disputes without igniting the city.

Hundreds of policemen from different parts of Lebanon have been sent to Tripoli to help improve security, working under the army's command.

The army has been authorized to take charge of security in Tripoli for six months following the deadly sectarian clashes by rival sides stemming from the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Tensions soared in the city in August when twin car bombings hit Sunni mosques and left hundreds of casualties.

The latest round of violence erupted last week when Jabal Mohsen residents were shot in their feet in vengeful sectarian attacks.

Qabbani also congratulated the new members of the HIC on their election during the meeting.

The attendees denounced the security chaos in Lebanon, saying that “the incitement aims at making Lebanon slip over into a sectarian strife.”

The members warned against “attempts to deepen the rift among the Lebanese and inciting sectarian sedition.” calling on the rival political powers “to act reasonably.”

The Council, which elects the Mufti and organizes the affairs of Dar al-Fatwa, has been at the center of controversy after 21 of its members, who are close to ex-Premier Saad Hariri's al-Mustaqbal Movement, extended its term until June 30, 2015 despite Qabbani's objection.

The Mufti later held elections for the Council, which current and former premiers, including Caretaker PM Najib Miqati and Fouad Saniora, deemed illegal for violating Shura Council decisions to halt the polls.

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