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Protesters threaten to expand north Lebanon demos
Worshipers gather outside Nour Square in Tripoli, north Lebanon, for Friday prayers on May 25, 2012. (The Daily Star/Antoine Amrieh)
Worshipers gather outside Nour Square in Tripoli, north Lebanon, for Friday prayers on May 25, 2012. (The Daily Star/Antoine Amrieh)
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TRIPOLI, Lebanon: Protesters camped outside the main square of Tripoli, north Lebanon, warned Friday that their demonstrations would become widespread if authorities failed to resolve the issue of Islamists held in prisons without charge.

“Not only will the sit-in continue here [at Nour Square] until the [Islamist] prisoners are released, but sit-ins will spread across Lebanon,” Sheikh Mohammad Ibrahim told a huge crowd of worshipers that flocked to Tripoli’s Nour Square for Friday prayers.

Prisoners’ families, backed by local preachers, have maintained an open-ended sit-in at Nour Square and called for the release of about 180 Islamist prisoners detained for years without charge.

"I urge Lebanese officials to lift injustice of these inmates," Ibrahim said.

Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani has urged Muslims to hold open-ended sit-ins if the Lebanese judiciary fails to try or release Islamists detained without charge by summer.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel vowed during a recent meeting with the prisoners’ families in Tripoli to finalize the cases of their relatives.

The suspects were arrested on charges of fighting or aiding fighters during the 2007 armed clashes between the Lebanese Army and militant group Fatah al-Islam in the Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared in north Lebanon.

During a news conference in Tripoli last week, Charbel said he was confident that the judicial system would speed up the process of holding trials for Islamist inmates.

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