SIDON, Lebanon: Sheikh Ahmad Assir sold real estate to buyers rumored to be running for Parliament under the Free Patriotic Movement, a party allied with the preacher’s main opponent, Hezbollah, Sidon sources told The Daily Star Tuesday.
According to the sources, the sale of a house and a plot of land owned by Assir in the Jezzine village of Shawaliq was finalized Tuesday by notary Jean Farah.
The sale of the land, which was bought by Amal Abu Zeid, and the house, purchased by Fadi Romanos, netted $1 million, the sources added.
Both Abu Zeid and Romanos, who hail from the Jezzine village of Nabaa, are said to be preparing to run in the parliamentary elections for the FPM.
The sale comes despite Assir’s campaign against Hezbollah, a main ally of the FPM. The popular but controversial sheikh has for months led sit-ins and rallies against Hezbollah and its leadership in protest against the party’s arms.
Over the summer, Assir led a monthlong sit-in along Sidon’s main road to denounce Hezbollah’s arms, drawing the ire of local business leaders. During a sermon in July, the Salafist sheikh directly attacked FPM head MP Michel Aoun, saying that he would soon be committed to a psychiatric hospital.
Assir has also staged rallies in Beirut in support of the Syrian uprising, slamming Hezbollah and its allies in the March 8 coalition over their support for the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Late last year, a showdown between Assir bodyguards and supporters of Hezbollah over posters of party chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah left three dead, including two bodyguards and an Egyptian bystander.
The armed clash came after Assir delivered an ultimatum to Hezbollah to remove all posters of Nasrallah from Sidon.
“We call on officials to take down all Hezbollah posters in Sidon within two days,” he told followers at the 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 resumed weekly protests last week, after a roughly monthlong lull. According to security sources, he didn’t hold sit-ins during December “so as not to disrupt people’s celebrations, especially those from the Christian sect during Christmas and New Year’s.”