Sheikh Assir Targets Saida’s Shia Mosque

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Marwan Charbel gave Assir permission for his protest so long as he stayed 500 meters away from al-Zahraa complex. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)

By: Amal Khalil

Published Thursday, April 18, 2013

On Monday, 15 April 2013, acting Governor of South Lebanon Nicolas Abou Daher announced a decision to “ban all marches, gatherings, and sit-ins that will stir up sectarian and confessional strife.”

The decision, stemming from a security commission meeting at his Saida office, seems to be directed toward Salafi Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir. The sheikh had announced a protest outside Saida’s al-Zahraa Mosque complex following this coming Friday’s prayers.

Sources maintained that Minister of Interior Marwan Charbel gave Assir permission for his protest so long as he stayed 500 meters away from al-Zahraa complex. Assir’s Friday announcement seems to be inspired by Charbel’s decision.

As for the Zahraa complex, many are surprised that it is being pulled into “Assir’s madness,” which put it as a list of targets. Assir sees the place as “the embassy of Iran’s party Hezbollah in Saida and its biggest political complex. It is also where party figures meet.”

However, sources indicated that Zahraa’s Sheikh Afif al-Naboulsi resigned from Hezbollah and does not have any political or religious status in the party. Assir wants to close down the complex, which was built in 1993, since it is “inside our city.”

Currently, the complex is not a Hezbollah headquarters. It is the only Shia religious center in Saida, holding religious lectures and Ashura commemorations. This is why many see that the sit-in as “directed against the Shia sect and not Hezbollah.”

Sources close to Assir told Al-Akhbar that security forces delivered a message to the sheikh, “warning him about the sit-in and informing him that the army will not be taking the usual precautions around his rally to prevent any friction, since he did not apply for the necessary permits.”

However, the message did not impact Assir’s plans. Sources indicated that after Friday prayers, three groups of Assir’s followers will then march to Zahra, located about 500 meters away.

Reactions to Assir’s Plans

In the meantime, the Islamic National Gathering was launched on Monday under the slogan “security, peace, and coexistence between the people of Saida.” The gathering, called for by the Baath party represented by MP Qassem Hashem, marked solidarity with “the resistant religious edifice in Saida, whose targeting only serves the American-Zionist project.”

One of the gathering’s founders, Sheikh Khodor al-Kabsh, indicated that a committee was formed to vocalize its rejection for Assir’s actions.

Also on Monday, statements from the “Sunnis of Ain al-Hilweh” and Usbat al-Ansar, a Salafi faction, called for support of Assir’s protest.

Palestinian factions and the media officer of al-Ansar denied any connection with “the fabricated statements.” Informed sources believe “it is possible that some Islamist groups from al-Taware and Taamir neighborhoods in Ain al-Hilweh might exploit Assir’s protest and fire their arms toward army stations or Lebanese neighborhoods.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

This Assir needs to shut up its very
Clear he is being paid by a foreign source either
Saudi, Qatar , Israeli or USA to sow strife.

This is mad sheikh.

This man should be in prison for inciting hate and division.
If someone cries foul then, they follow him to prison as accomplices.
Ministry of justice, act now before this gets out of hand.

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