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Lebanon’s Salafists renew support for the uprising in Syria

  • Assir speaks to his supporters during an anti-Syrian regime demonstration in Wadi Khaled.

  • Assir is escorted by his supporters during the protest in Wadi Khaled.

BEIRUT: Salafist preachers voiced support Sunday for the yearlong Syrian uprising against President Bashar Assad at a rally in the northern region of Wadi Khaled near the border with Syria.

During the rally organized by the Salafist movement in Lebanon under the slogan of “Supporting the Syrian People’s Revolution” in Wadi Khaled, speakers, including Sidon-based controversial Salafist Sheikh Ahmad Assir, called for solidarity with Syrian protesters demanding Assad’s ouster.

Assir lambasted what he called “those who failed to come to the rescue of the Syrian revolution.”

“As long as there are activist members [protesters], we do not fear for the revolution,” Assir said. A harsh critic of the Assad regime, Assir has organized rallies in Sidon and in central Beirut to show solidarity with anti-regime protesters since the uprising began in Syria in March last year.

Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal, founder the Salafist movement in Lebanon, called on Muslim movements and parties to support the Syrian people in their revolt against the regime.

Addressing Muslim groups and parties, Shahhal said: “Unite so your efforts do not go in vain. Your unity is needed under these circumstances so that you can support the rebels in Syria.”

The rally was also attended by a delegation from Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya led by Mohammad Hosher, the group’s Akkar chief, and Sheikh Haitham Rifai.

Delivering Al-Jamaa al-Islamiya’s speech, Rifai said: “In the name of the Muslim Brotherhood in the world, we have come here to the blessed Wadi Khaled bin al-Walid ... We are close to Homs, [the city] of manhood and heroism. We salute the youth who are today taking a stance of pride in the face of oppressors and tyrants.”

Addressing rebels in Syria, he said: “We stand in front of you and behind you on the border to protect you against those oppressors.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 02, 2012, on page 3.
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