BEIRUT: Controversial preacher Sheikh Ahmad Assir condemned Tuesday the attack on Al-Jadeed television following his interview with the station, and said he hoped for a swift investigation into the incident.
“Ahmad Assir condemns the organized attack on Al-Jadeed Television regardless of the abuse that the station practiced against [him],” a statement from Assir’s office said.
A group of gunmen burned tires at the entrance of Al-Jadeed and fired gunshots at the building Monday night, causing material damage. Wissam Alaaeddine, a suspect in the attack on the station, was apprehended at the scene, prompting masked gunmen to close off several Beirut roads with burning tires.
Fifteen men carrying machine guns set blazing tires on Bshara al-Khoury Avenue, Ras Nabaa, Aisha Bakkar, Verdun and near the tunnel of Saeb Salam between the hours of 12 a.m. and 2 a.m. Police and army personnel doused the flames almost immediately.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri also condemned the attack on Al-Jadeed.
"What happened [Monday] shows that the only solution lies in the rule of law," he said in a statement published Tuesday.
The television station had interviewed Assir, who made threats against Berri and Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah which many considered sectarian attacks. Assir’s remarks prompted the channel to apologize for the interview after it had been aired.
In his statement Tuesday, Assir also said that the attack against Al-Jadeed was “a simple form of the suffering we experience and touches many in Lebanon daily.”
He also posted a Facebook link to a page allegedly belonging to Alaaeddine.
President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Speaker Nabih Berri and politicians from across the spectrum contacted Al-Jadeed to voice their concern over the attack.
In an interview Monday, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel, who announced this week that the Lebanese Army and police are set to begin a month-long, countrywide crackdown in July to bolster security and arrest people with outstanding warrants, said that the perpetrators of the attack on Al-Jadeed will be arrested.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's embassy in Lebanon denied Tuesday having contacted Assir for discussions or even having sought to communicate with him as claimed by the Sidon-based sheikh during his interview with Al-Jadeed.
Assir said that the embassy requested a meeting with him but that he refused.
In a statement, the embassy also asked Assir to investigate the identity of the person who allegedly contacted him.
It also "expresses respect for and appreciation of all scholars and preachers and warns against the attempt to implicate the embassy's name in internal Lebanese issues,” the statement said.