BEIRUT: Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi has acknowledged the rightful demands of families of Islamist prisoners held without trial, stressing however, that any attempt to re-ignite violence in Tripoli would not be tolerated.
Speaking at an iftar in Tripoli Sunday, hours after security forces rounded up a top salafist militia leader in the city, Rifi said “there will be no stepping-back and no concessions on Tripoli’s security for any reason and under any circumstances.”
“Let it be clear to all, we will not allow setting back the clock. ... Tripoli’s security is above all,” said Rifi, a former Internal Security chief and a prominent figure in the Future Movement.
Tensions ran high in Tripoli Sunday following Hassan al-Sabbagh’s arrest, with supporters charging that the security clampdown is targeting Sunnis alone.
The Muslim Scholars Committee staged a sit-in outside Al-Siddiq Mosque facing Tripoli’s Serail Monday in protest against Sabbagh’s detention and the continued imprisonment of Tripoli fighters without trial.
The protesters brandished banners warning politicians and security officials against the consequences of “persecuting the Sunnis,” which they said “is pushing the organization into engaging in an open-ended confrontation (with security forces).”
In his iftar address, Rifi stressed that the government was seeking to consolidate Tripoli’s security and stability, by reinforcing the security plan with economic development projects expected to be launched in the near future.
“Our country is passing through an extremely difficult phase of its history, as fires are raging around us from Syria to Iraq and Palestine, escalating the risks facing Lebanon,” Rifi said, stressing that “additional care and vigilance is needed to curb the repercussions of raging conflicts on Lebanon.