Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian gestures upon arriving at Dar al-Fatwa in Beirut, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Consensus among Sunni leaders led Sunday to the election of Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian as Lebanon's new grand mufti, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri praised the move and called on Derian to safeguard Muslim unity and fight extremism.Of the 93 votes cast in the election, the new mufti, whose term will officially begin Sept. 15, received 74 votes, with nine for Sheikh Ahmad Kurdi, eight blank ballots and two eliminated.Hariri's speech was centered on the need to fight extremism, which he warned was destroying the image of Islam and Muslims.Hariri, who returned to Lebanon Friday after more than three years in self-exile, praised the "noble" $1 billion Saudi donation to the Lebanese Army, stressing that it came merely out of concern over Lebanon's safety, with no political interest involved.Derian hailed the Saudi king's initiative to donate $1 billion in aid to the Lebanese Army, pledging as the head of the top Sunni institution to continue supporting moderation against "extremism and terrorism".Derian wondered, pledging to show solidarity and support to Christians oppressed by extremist Muslims.
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