Lebanon Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said said following a meeting at Dar al-Fatwa on Monday that Hezbollah and the Amal Movement cooperated with the security forces in their efforts to arrest the individuals who assaulted the Sunni clerics in Beirut.
“The Amal [Movement] and Hezbollah demanded the arrest of those involved in the assault, and they cooperated with the security forces,” Charbel said was quoted as saying
“One of the Shiite clerics mentioned the name of one of the men involved in the incident, which led to the arrest of [the others],” Charbel also noted.
Four Sunni Muslim scholars were beaten up in two separate attacks in Beirut on Sunday night, testing a fragile peace between the sects and factions that fought Lebanon’s 15-year civil war.
Mazen Hariri and Ahmed Fekhran, both scholars at Lebanon’s highest Sunni seat of learning, Dar al-Fatwa, were attacked by a group of men in the mainly Shi’ite Khandak al-Ghamik area after they left the Mohammed al-Amin mosque in downtown Beirut, security sources said on Monday.
Ibrahim Abdul-Latif and Omar Imani, also Sunni scholars, were assaulted in Shiyah, a Shi’ite district in southern Beirut.
The two-year-old conflict in neighboring Syria – which pits mainly Sunni Muslims against President Bashar al-Assad, who comes from the Shi’ite-derived Alawite sect – has deepened divisions in Lebanon between some Sunnis and Shi’ites.
Lebanon-based political scientist Hilal Khashan said Syria could be implicated in the attacks as it had warned Lebanese groups not to support the uprising against Assad.
“These were two coordinated attacks. The fact that Hezbollah and Amal were quick to condemn the attacks means they wanted to dissociate themselves,” he said. “There are those in the region that want to destabilize the country, such as the Syrian regime.”
Top Shiite cleric denounces attack
Higher Islamic Shiite Council deputy head Sheikh Abdel Amir Qabalan on Monday condemned the attack on Sunni clerics in Beirut, and called for severe punishment of the attackers.
“What happened is unjustified, we strongly condemn it and call for the intensification of then ongoing investigations, and for the punishing [of the assailants]…” Qabalan said.
The Shiite cleric also telephoned Grand Mufti Sheikh of the Lebanese Republic Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and other political and security officials to discuss the incident.
He also said that Shiites have nothing to do with the attack.
“The attack on these clerics is not at all related to the Shiite community, because Muslim Shiites live with high morals and respect for others,” Qabalan said.