TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The mufti of North Lebanon said Friday that an upcoming wide-scale meeting to address problems in Tripoli would tackle everything from socio-economic issues and sanitation to sectarian tension and the “non-Islamic” aspect of black flags in the city.
Sheikh Malek Shaar made the remarks during a meeting with representatives of civil associations and other local groups, saying he felt it was his responsibility to “act in a way that goes beyond my religious position.”
Shaar was visited by Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who voiced his support for moving ahead with a range of development and other projects that he said were desperately needed in the city.
Mikati, who made the visit on the occasion of the advent of Ramadan, took part in Friday prayers with Shaar.
During the meeting with civil society groups, the mufti said an upcoming conference on Tripoli was urgently necessary to address a range of problems, and cited continued sectarian tension in the city as worrying signs.
“I find no justification for the firing of guns recently,” he said, referring to Wednesday’s celebratory gunfire in the wake of a deadly bombing in Damascus that took the lives of top military and security officials.
“Everyone knows, including you, that this is related to political tension in Lebanon, and perhaps is connected to the tension in neighboring Syria.”
Two people were killed Wednesday when snipers believed to be located in the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen fired in response to celebratory gunfire coming from the Sunni-majority neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh after news of the Damascus blast.
Shaar said he fully supported the deployment of the Lebanese Army in Tripoli and north Lebanon as a means of controlling the tension, and also took issue with several worrying phenomena in the country’s second-largest city.
“It is painful for anyone who walks around the streets of the city to see the sanitation situation. It’s also painful to see posters and banners put up in haphazard fashion, in addition to the black flags, which I do not see as a proper aspect of Islam at all,” Shaar said.
He was referring to the common sight of flags put up by Islamist factions.
“There are worrying aspects ... as some have come to do whatever they wish, as if the country has no municipalities, no law, no governorate, no urban planning, and this is very strange,” he commented.