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Top Hezbollah critic Shiite cleric Sayyed Ali al-Amine hailed on Wednesday Maronite Patriarch Beshara el-Rai’s campaign for Lebanon neutrality stressing that only neutrality makes Lebanon an independent and sovereign state capable of imposing its authority on all Lebanon’s territory.

Shiite cleric Sayyed Ali al-Amine is shown with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros el-Rai in Dimane, the patriarch’s summer residence

“Neutrality makes Lebanon an independent state, and it also means a state capable of imposing its authority on all its territory,” al-Amine told reporters after meeting Rai in Dimane, the patriarch’s summer residence. 

Sayyed Ali al-Amine said talks with Patriarch Beshara el-Rai focused on neutralizing Lebanon

While several parties openly supported Rai’s call , namely the Future Movement and Lebanese Forces , others like Hezbollah and its allies, the Amal Movement , PM Hassan Diab and president Michel Aoun dismissed the issue as a low priority .

Shiite cleric Sayyed Ali al-Amine (R) is shown with Maronite Patriarch Beshara Boutros el-Rai in Dimane, the patriarch’s summer residence

Hezbollah has been under pressure to counter the Patriarch’s campaign for Lebanon’s neutrality . Following Patriarch ‘s meeting with Aoun earlier this month , Hezbollah sent a delegation of Shiite Muslim scholars to Baabda palace ,

At the same time Hezbollah sent the Iranian ambassador to Patriarch Rai at his summer residence to convince the Patriarch of Iran’s capability to help Lebanon, Sensing no change in his resolve , Hezbollah sent PM Hassan Diab to visit the patriarch last Saturday and on Sunday it sent Aoun’s son- in-law MP Gebran Bassil to visit the Patriarch .

All these actions by Hezbollah strengthened patriarch Rai’s resolve and he vowed to continue with his neutrality campaign till the very end . 

The islamic scholars that visited Aoun expressed complete opposition to neutrality .  Supreme Shiite Council head Sheikh Abdel Amir Kabalan went as far as equating neutrality with treason.

“Lebanon was open to all countries, east and west, except Israel which occupied our land. Lebanon was Switzerland of the east … Today, Lebanon has become isolated from the whole world and its friends . This is not our identity. Our identity is positive and constructive neutrality, not a warrior Lebanon,” the Patriarch was quoted as saying in a possible reference to Hezbollah and its so called Axis of resistance, following his meeting with Aoun last week.

Patriarch Rai remained determined as ever to forge ahead with his campaign about Lebanon neutrality towards regional conflicts despite opposition form Hezbollah and its allies as he presided Sunday evening, over a Mass in the Basilica of Our Lady of Lebanon, Harisa to pray for saving Lebanon on the occasion marking Saint Charbel’s Day.

Sayyed Ali Al-Amine is a Lebanese Muslim religious authority who studied under several Grand Ayatollahs in the city of Najaf, Iraq, where he reached the clerical rank of ‘Mujtahid’ – the senior level of clerical accomplishment. Afterwards, he taught senior clerical students, both in Islamic jurisprudence (al-fiqh) and the Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (Uṣūl al-fiqh) in a number of seminaries in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria where many graduated under his supervision. He headed the ‘Islamic Law’ seminary in Beirut, and the al-Sadr seminary for Islamic Studies in Tyre, Lebanon, where he also held the position of Mufti of Tyre and Jabal Amel. He is a member of the Muslim-elders Council.

Following its 2006 war with Israel , Hezbollah forced Sayyed Ali Al-Amine out of his position as Mufti of Tyre and Jabal Amel and last month a prosecutor who is closely associated with Hezbollah filed a lawsuit against the former Mufti a move that prompted former PM Saad Hariri to describe it a as “a blatant attack on the dignity of the Lebanese.”

“It represents a crime, a blatant attack on the dignity of the Lebanese and contempt for their intelligence and patriotism,” Hariri said in a tweet.

“Sayyed Ali al-Amin is one of the icons of national and Islamic unity and any attack against his dignity is an attack against us all, both Muslims and Christians,” Hariri added.

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