Salafists protest in support of Sabbagh in Tripoli. (The Daily Star/Stringer)
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Salafists in north Lebanon say that while just a handful of their co-religionists are involved in militant activities, many believe that Salafism is inherently intolerant and violent.Salafism was brought to Lebanon in the 1940s by Sheikh Salem al-Shahhal, who maintained close ties to the Saudi ruling family.While holding some common beliefs, Salafists in Lebanon today are not homogenous.Today, there are three distinct schools of thought among Salafists in Lebanon, according to Robert Rabil, a professor at Florida Atlantic University and author of the recently published book "Salafism in Lebanon: From Apoliticism to Transnational Jihadism". Some Salafists, who Rabil calls "quietists," are largely apolitical and seek to unite Muslims under the banner of pure Islam.The Salafist jihadis have gained a toehold, if not popular support, in Tripoli.According to Pall, some sheikhs in Tripoli are concerned about the expansion of the Salafist jihadi ideology. Still, militant Salafist jihadis in Lebanon are few.Sheikh Zakaria Masri, who Rabil classifies as an activist Salafist, said he was concerned that the environment in Tripoli was pushing some Salafists toward violence.
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