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Tripoli sheikh: Baath Party worse than Zionist Jews

Syrian refugees seen outside of newly set up tents in Arsal, Saturday, June 2, 2012. (The Daily Star/Rakan al-Fakih)

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: A Friday protest to support the Syrian uprising, on a day dedicated to condemning Russia’s stance in the conflict, saw a local sheikh criticize Hezbollah for seeking to change Lebanon’s political system.

A few hundred protesters who rallied in Tripoli heard Sheikh Zakaria Masri condemn Syria’s Baath Party for committing atrocities against Syrian civilians: “[The party] has gone beyond that of the enemies of the Arabs and the Muslims, the Zionist Jews.”

“The [Zionists] didn’t do one-tenth of what the Baath Party has done.”

Masri devoted more than half of his speech to rejecting the call by Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah to convene a wide-scale “constituent assembly” to discuss Lebanon’s future.

He said Nasrallah’s call, on June 1, for a constituent assembly to discuss the future of the Lebanese state, was an attempt to “go beyond the Taif Accord” and enshrine the hegemony of an armed group over the political system, “while others lack this military force.”

Protesters at the weekly event were joined by members of the Tripoli Coordination Committee, which is organizing relief efforts for Syrian refugees.

Meanwhile, the latest report by the United Nations Higher Commissioner of Refugees, issued Friday, said over 27,000 Syrian refugees are receiving aid from the organization.

Some local groups estimate the total refugee population as high as 58,000 people.

The tense security situation and recent kidnappings have taken their toll on UNHCR aid effort. It was forced to suspend efforts during several abductions in the north and in the Bekaa.

“Reports of cross-border incursions, kidnapping incidents and alleged planting of land mines along the eastern borders caused concerns among refugees and local communities,” the report said.

Registration points in the refugee hub of Wadi Khaled and the Akkar town of Bireh opened for the first time last week, according to the report.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 16, 2012, on page 2.

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