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Current, former premiers mull giving Qabbani the boot
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani speaks during a press conference in Dar al-Fatwa in Beirut, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani speaks during a press conference in Dar al-Fatwa in Beirut, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)
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BEIRUT: Former and current prime ministers may soon act to address a simmering controversy at Dar al-Fatwa, and could potentially ask Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani to step down, a source familiar with the issue told The Daily Star Friday.

The discussion over whether to relieve Qabbani of his duties came after the grand mufti Friday appointed eight newly elected members to the Sunni Higher Islamic Council, following controversial polls that the mufti called for earlier this year.

His actions came in response to a decision last year by the 32-member Higher Islamic Council to extend its own term until the end of 2013. Deeming the move illegal, Qabbani held elections anyway on April 14.

He then formed a new council, despite the Shura Council – a state-run body that rules on the legality of various religious and civil decisions – denouncing the grand mufti’s move as illegal.

“The mufti’s intransigence and insistence on holding Higher Islamic Council elections and appointing eight new members will lead to a rift in the Sunni community,” the source said.

“The [current and former] prime ministers may ask the mufti to step down from his post, but the final decision has not been made.”

According to Article 42 of legislative decree No. 18, which regulates Sidon’s Dar al-Fatwa, the mufti has the authority to appoint one third of the council’s members.

The new members are Dr. Mustafa Mansour, Sheikh Ayman Rifai, Hisham Makmel, Fouad Matarji, Saadeddine Khaled, Rifaat Badawi, Maher Saqqal and Omar Makkawi.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on May 25, 2013, on page 3.
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