Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri hosts a lunch at his Downtown residence in Beirut, Sunday, Aug. 10, 2014. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)
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Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri pledged Sunday to fight what he termed "a minority of extremists" who are seeking to drive Muslims into a confrontation with Christians in Lebanon and the region.Hariri, who returned to Lebanon Friday after more than three years abroad for security reasons, held an ice-breaking meeting with Speaker Nabih Berri Sunday night as part of attempts by the head of the Future Movement to defuse Sunni-Shiite tensions fueled by sharp differences over the conflict in Syria. In addition to easing sectarian tensions, the Berri-Hariri meeting is expected to set the stage for a flurry of consultations among the rival factions aimed at breaking a political deadlock that has left the country without a president for nearly three months.Ahead of his meeting with Berri, Hariri warned that Lebanon and the Islamic world are facing "dangerous challenges" as a result of hostile actions by Al-Qaeda-affiliated groups against Muslims and Christians in the region. Speaking at a lunch he hosted at his Beirut Downtown residence for the new Grand Mufti, Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, Hariri urged Muslim scholars and Dar al-Fatwa (the Sunni mufti's seat) to face religious extremism and prevent Muslims from falling into the "abyss of terrorism". Hariri called on the new mufti to devote Dar al-Fatwa's efforts to safeguard Muslim unity and sectarian coexistence in Lebanon.
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