BEIRUT: Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani and Hezbollah officials called Monday for boosting Islamic and national unity in Lebanon, amid fears of ongoing strife in Syria spilling over into Lebanon.
Qabbani highlighted the “importance of dialogue ... harmony, [and] enhancing Islamic and national unity to combat strife and the necessity of resorting to state institutions.”
The Sunni mufti, who received Hezbollah officials Sheikh Abdul-Majid Ammar, Mohammad Saleh and former MP Amin Sherri at Dar al-Fatwa in Beirut, called for preserving unity and coexistence and combating strife to help maintain stability and security in Lebanon.
Many Lebanese fear that an 11-month uprising against President Bashar Assad in neighboring Syria will eventually destabilize Lebanon, given the deep polarization of the two Lebanese political camps, a pro-Assad March 8 coalition and the rival March 14 alliance who have declared their support for Syrian protesters.
In a speech last week to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the assassination of his father former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, Future Movement head and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri promised to prevent Sunni-Shiite strife from erupting as a result of ongoing events in Syria.
Qabbani underscored the need for politicians to adopt “wise rhetoric because it reflects positively on the feelings of the Lebanese by reducing sectarian sentiment.”
He also called for protecting Lebanon against “storms hitting the region” and distancing the Lebanese from political differences which he said should not violate the principle of respecting the opinions of others.
Ammar said “there was an agreement on the necessity ... enhancing Islamic and national unity to confront all challenges because Lebanon does not need destabilizing factors.”
“Thus, we have to all work on enhancing security and stability in Lebanon so that it will not be affected by what is happening around it on the regional level,” he added.
Ammar noted that Lebanon should not be a corridor or a sanctuary for groups trying to destabilize Syria, saying that some groups were dragging Lebanon to the eye of the Syrian storm.
In a speech last week, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah accused the March 14 coalition of arming and funding Syrian opposition groups fighting to topple Assad.
Ammar said he felt Qabbani is keen on preserving stability and ready to communicate with all groups for this aim. While noting that his party did not fear Sunni-Shiite strife, he voiced hope that promises to prevent it are sincere.