BEIRUT: Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani condemned the harassment of an imam delivering a sermon at the Mohammad Amin Mosque in Beirut Friday.
In a statement, Qabbani condemned the “groups responsible for this behavior,” which he said was aimed at “inciting strife between Muslims in their mosques.”
In a statement, Dar al-Fatwa’s General Directorate of Islamic Endowments described the incident which began when an unspecified number of young men hurled insults at Sheikh Hisham Khalifa, the head of Islamic Endowments, while he was delivering a sermon at the mosque. The youths also tried to remove Khalifa from the pulpit during the tense exchange, the statement added.
Khalifa’s address focused on using wisdom, patience and closing divides in order to resolve matters in the country, when the incident took place.
Khalifa’s bodyguards soon stepped in and pushed the youths back, allowing the sheikh to continue with his sermon.
Khalifa later told the media that his assaulters told him they were armed, but an eyewitness told The Daily Star that the men were not carrying weapons. For its part, the Army denied reports that armed men had entered the mosque.
“We will bury you here if you attack [former Prime Minister Saad] Hariri or talk politics [during the sermon],” one of them was heard telling the sheikh, according to the witness.
Following the exchange, Khalifa delivered a brief five-minute sermon, in contrast to his usual 30-minute one, about the plight of Islamist detainees in Roumieh prison.
Dar al-Fatwa’s General Directorate of Islamic Endowments said Khalifa completed his sermon “and led Friday prayers as usual,” adding that security forces arrived directly at the mosque after the youths had fled the scene.
Dar al-Fatwa denounced the incident and said it was “violating the principles and teachings of Islam.”