Lebanon News

Assir threatens to tear down Hezbollah posters

Hezbollah banners on the streets of Sidon. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Sheikh Ahmad Assir told Sidon officials Friday that they had two days to remove all Hezbollah posters from the city before he and his supporters take to the streets to tear them down.

“We call on officials to take down all Hezbollah posters in Sidon within two days,” Assir told followers during Friday prayers at Bilal Bin Rabah Mosque. “Over my dead body will Hezbollah put posters in Sidon. Over my dead body will there be posters of Hasan Nasrallah or [Speaker] Nabih Berri in Sidon.”

The sheikh, a staunch opponent of Hezbollah, was critical of security forces for “guarding” Hezbollah’s posters while doing nothing when supporters of the party tore down his posters.

“When we wanted to organize an activity in Sidon and put up posters, we were required to ask permission from the municipality. After we received permission, we put up posters, but Hezbollah supporters came and tore them down and destroyed them,” Assir said.

“When we asked security forces to intervene, they were hesitant and told us ‘We’ll take a look,’ but they did not do anything. In the meantime, Hezbollah put up posters to provoke us. In reaction, some of my supporters tore them down, but security forces stopped us.”

Assir’s ultimatum came just two hours after some of his supporters tore down a few of Hezbollah’s posters.

“After a couple of days passed, we dared them to put up posters,” he added.

During his sermon, Assir also attacked the Hezbollah chief over the Syrian crisis and the party’s support for the regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad, describing Nasrallah as a “war criminal” and accusing Hezbollah and Iran of killing Rafik Hariri and intelligence chief Wissam al-Hasan.

“The Iranian project is killing us one by one. If you need proof, all you need to do is listen to Nasrallah’s last speech when he threatened Syrian rebels, warning them not to “test” them,” he said.

Assir alleged that the party had been behind the attempted assassination of MP Butros Harb and that one Hezbollah member was spotted at the scene of the explosion that killed Hasan last month.

“They want to kill us, and at the same time, they want us to remain silent so they can do so quietly,” he said.

“I’m not talking about Sunnis and Shiites here; I’m talking about the Iranian project that wants to kill us, and Hasan Nasrallah is head of that project in Lebanon. “

Assir derided Nasrallah’s position on Syria, especially the Hezbollah chief’s insistence that those instigating the violence were foreigners.

“Are 90 percent of the Syrian people foreigners who are stirring up trouble?” Assir asked.

He also accused Hezbollah of dominating the Lebanese Army and using it to settle personal scores, giving the example of Sheikh Ahmad Abdel-Wahed, who was killed at a Lebanese Army checkpoint in May.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on November 10, 2012, on page 2.




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