Islamic body calls accusations over Lutfallah II “false”


Lebanon’s Higher Islamic Council voiced surprise and concern that some official platforms in Lebanon are being used to launch false accusations against Saudi Arabia and Qatar, according to a statement

“ We are surprised and concerned that some official state platforms are being bused to launch false accusations against Saudi Arabia and Qatar,” The council, which was chaired by Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, said in a statement following its meeting at Dar al-Fatwa in reference to Syrian Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Abdel Karim Ali’s statements.

On Wednesday, following talks with Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour, the Syrian envoy accused Gulf countries, including Qatar and Saudi Arabia, of being behind the Syria-bound arms shipments that was intercepted recently by the Lebanese Army.

Ali’s comments were swiftly criticized by Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awad Asiri, who said Thursday the accusations came in line with a policy practiced by the Syrian government in a “desperate attempt to divert attention from the suffering of the Syrian people.”

The Lutfallah II ship which was intercepted and seized by the Lebanese navy off the coast of the northern city of Batroun was loaded with three containers of weapons destined for Syrian rebel forces.

Yesterday, Military prosecutor Judge Saqr Saqr indicted 21 people, including customs agents and crew members of the Syria-bound Lutfallah II vessel.

The suspects include 13 Syrians (8 of them detained), four Lebanese (three of them detained), two arrested Egyptians, an Indian and an unidientified Libyan.

Syrian refugees

The council called on international humanitarian institutions and civil society organizations to support and aid Syrian refugees who are fleeing to Lebanon from “what is taking place in terms of killings and destruction in the vast majority of towns and villages in Syria that are calling for their rights, freedom and justice.”

The council also urged that Kofi Annan’s peace initiative to resolve the 13-month-old crisis in Lebanon’s neighbor be strictly adhered to.

The exact number of Syrian refugees in Lebanon is not known but estimates range anywhere between 20, 000 to 50,000. Many of the refugees have relatives in Lebanon and for this reason they do not register with the UN refugee agency UNHCR

According to UN estimates, more than 9,000 people have been killed in violence across Syria since anti-regime protests broke out in March 2011, while monitors put the number at more than 11,100, mostly civilians.

Peoples’ needs

The council called on the Cabinet to meet the growing needs of citizens .

“The Cabinet [needs] to move swiftly in resolving the problems of citizens and remedying the issue of [state] spending and support President Michel Suleiman’s direction on the matter away from political disputes,” the council said