BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati and other former PMs Wednesday asked Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani to convene the Higher Islamic Council Saturday, warning him against failing to call for the meeting.
"The attendees ... ask the grand mufti once again to invite the Higher Islamic Council to convene, and the invite and the convening should be done before March 16, 2013,” the statesmen said in a statement.
It added that the decision comes following Qabbani’s “insistence on disrupting the council,” and his refusal on several occasions to convene the meeting, and that their move was aimed at safeguarding the Sunni community from attempts to destabilize it due to the mufti’s “negative stances.”
The statement was issued after Prime Minister Najib Mikati headed a meeting with former Prime Ministers Fouad Siniora, Omar Karami, and Salim Hoss to discuss the standoff at the council.
Disputes within Dar al-Fatwa surfaced when 21 members of the council last year extended their term until the end of 2013.
Qabbani has argued that the extension is illegal and that the council’s term has expired. He refuses to hold or join any meetings at Dar al-Fatwa and called last month for elections of council members to be held on April 14.
He had called for elections to the council’s 32 positions last year but the move was suspended by the Shura Council after 21 members of the council who are close to the Future Movement challenged the call.
The prime ministers also said that it was necessary in the meantime to begin preparations for elections of administrative bodies, local sheikhs as well as the members of the new Higher Islamic Council.
They added that elections should be accompanied by efforts to reform and develop laws and structures that govern the affairs of the community and its institutions
“The attendees call on Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani to respond to this call ... otherwise measures will be taken to prevent anyone from harming this seat and maintaining it above any official, or purpose, or personal interest except for the highest interest of the sect that must be compatible with the supreme national interest,” the statement said.
The Islamic Council elects the mufti and organizes the affairs of Dar al-Fatwa.