TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Huge crowds marched across the northern city of Tripoli to voice support for Sunni militants held in prison over alleged involvement in gunbattles linked to the Syria war.
The protesters responded to a call for rallies from the Muslim Scholars Committee in “solidarity with the oppressed Sunnis in Tripoli.”
Rallies kicked off after dawn prayers from several local mosques and met up at Tinal Mosque.
“It is hard for us that Ramadan is over and Eid al-Fitr is here and our oppressed Sunni brothers and sons are locked up in prisons,” Sheikh Raed Hleihel told the crowd. “Sheikh Hussam al-Sabbagh was, has become and will remain the safety valve of Tripoli."
Hleihel said the Muslim Scholars Committee would exert “strenuous” efforts to ensure the release of Sabbagh and Sunni militants “who have been arrested since the start of the implementation of the security plan for Tripoli.”
He accused “some” security agencies of exploiting the arrests, “thinking they can break the Sunni Islamist arena, but they are wrong.”
The Sunni arena, he said, has become more united and committed to further, peaceful actions to demand the release of all the prisoners.
The Tripoli head of Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya, Sheikh Mustafa Alloush, called for the immediate release of the Tripoli inmates.
He also called for the release of Sheikh Hussein Atwe, who was arrested after firing a rocket toward Israel in solidarity with Gaza.