BEIRUT: Mufti of Tripoli and North Lebanon Sheikh Malek al-Shaar Monday ended speculation about his whereabouts telling The Daily Star he was back in his home city after a series of engagements abroad.
“I was not missing, it just so happened that I was taking part in several conferences abroad and I preferred to link all my travels together,” Shaar told The Daily star.
"Now, I am back and I am staying here," he said.
Shaar, a prominent moderate sheikh, said he had traveled to three Arab countries to sit on panels focusing on Islamic religious affairs.
The mufti said his travels had lasted for almost a month before he returned to Tripoli several days ago.
The mufti has spent prolonged periods abroad because of death threats. In 2012, Shaar said police had recommended he leave Lebanon as his life was in danger.
The mufti, who hails from Tripoli, also commented on the recent clashes in the northern city, describing them as “futile and unjustified.”
He appealed to President Michel Sleiman to call for a meeting that would include political figures and officials from Tripoli to help restore stability in the city that has been engaged in intermittent battles linked to the crisis in Syria.
“President Michel Sleiman was right when he said that some politicians had not lifted political cover from gunmen in Tripoli after claiming otherwise,” he said.
“The futile and unjustified battles in Tripoli will end once the state takes an effective decision to end them,” the mufti added.
“The president should call all politicians in Tripoli for an expanded meeting and urge them to end this farce.”
A tenuous calm prevailed in Tripoli Monday, after days of clashes between pro and anti-Assad fighters that left 11 people dead and more than 60 people wounded.