BEIRUT: The mufti of Tripoli and north Lebanon, Sheikh Malek Shaar, announced Sunday that the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria did not exist in Tripoli, saying that the city had never welcomed any terrorist ideology.
“I confirm here that Tripoli does not host any single [member] of ISIS or Al-Qaeda, and everything that happened in Tripoli was fabricated,” Shaar said at a news conference at Tripoli.
"As far as I know, Tripoli never embraced any terrorist thought related to Al-Qaeda or ISIS, and I ask you to take this concern into consideration when writing [about the city]," he said addressing journalists.
He condemned the way the media depict the northern city as home to terrorist organizations and fundamental Islamism.
“I am shocked at how [the media] concentrates on Tripoli as the source of Al-Qaeda and ISIS,” he said.
“In light of what has recently happened, media channels have been calling me, and I have been saying that Tripoli is secure, then why are you [still] concerned about it?" he asked, calling for fair treatment of Tripoli.
Tripoli had witnessed years of armed clashes between the mostly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood and its rival, Alawite-majority Jabal Mohsen. The clashes only ceased after an Army security plan was implemented earlier this year.
Many of the city’s religious figures have attacked the Army and other state institutions over a perceived bias against Sunnis in the northern city.
In this vein, Shaar reminded the press about one instance when he chose not to conduct a new conference to condemn the Army, even though its soldiers had “made a mistake.”
“We are the ones responsible for these institutions, especially the presidency, the Army, the Internal Security Forces, the prime ministry, the Parliament and the judiciary,” he said, “and thus we shall never attack or marginalize these institutions.”