TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Al-Salam Mosque in the northern city of Tripoli reopened Friday, nine months after a car bomb severely damaged it, as Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice at any cost.
During the reopening ceremony shortly before Friday prayers, Rifi described the bombing as “one of the biggest terrorist attacks in the history of Lebanon because they sought to detonate two car bombs outside two mosques.”
“We say to the criminal that regardless of what you do, our mosques were renovated. ... Some of the perpetrators are now behind bars thanks to the efforts of the Information Branch and the rest, whose names we have, will be pursued until the end at any cost,” Rifi told reporters.
Twin car bombs targeted the Al-Salam and Al-Taqwa mosques in Tripoli on Aug. 23 of last year during Friday prayers, killing at least 42 people and wounding 400. Both mosques suffered extensive damage in the explosions. Al-Taqwa mosque was reopened last month.
Rifi said the Cabinet had referred the bombing cases to the Higher Judicial Council.
“I want to thank Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai ... for dispatching representatives today so that we could present a picture of Muslim-Christian unity, and I am here to say: Tripoli is the city of coexistence without any extremism, embracing all of its sons and daughters,” Rifi said
The minister also thanked former Prime Minister Saad Hariri for donating the largest amount to rebuild the mosque.
North Lebanon Mufti Malek Shaar cut the ribbon at the reopening ceremony, congratulating Tripoli residents on the new mosque while promising: “We will respond together to terrorism which has hit this city.”
The imam of Al-Salam Mosque said the renovations cost over $1 million and that work was still ongoing to rebuild the inside hall.
“Today and after nine months, we are reborn and we will never look back,” Sheikh Bilal Baroudi told The Daily Star. “We have no feelings of revenge or tensions or hatred but we only seek justice."