BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati urged political leaders to refrain from using fiery rhetoric and return to the National Dialogue table following the recent attacks on Muslim scholars in Beirut.
“It’s true that the majority of Lebanese leaders swiftly voiced their condemnation of the incident but what happened confirms once again the need to stop incitement and fiery speeches. [We need] to meet again at the National Dialogue table without any preconditions,” Mikati said during the Wednesday Cabinet session.
The prime minister added that such steps would reduce tensions and prevent attempts to harm the stability of the country in the midst of “the difficult regional circumstances.”
Expressing his “personal pain” over the incidents, Mikati said the attacks were apparently aimed at igniting sectarian strife in Lebanon.
“The incident was followed by various reactions, primarily the blocking of roads in several areas that created a tense atmosphere. The quick response by security forces, particularly the Lebanese Army, in arresting the assailants and referring them to investigation [defused the situation],” he said.
He also praised the wisdom of Muslim religious leaders and other Lebanese leaders over their call for calm, which “formed a needed safety net to prevent strife.”
“I especially praise the efforts of Speaker Nabih Berri, who quickly moved to resolve the repercussions of the incident,” he said.
State Prosecutor Hatem Madi said that the ongoing investigations saw no political or sectarian motives behind the attacks on the four sheiks.
“Army Intelligence indicates that the direct motive behind the two attacks is the charged climate prevailing in the country currently,” Madi said. “There were no political motives, and no party or group was behind the assaults.”
“Investigations [also] indicate that there is no link between the assault on the two sheikhs in the lower Basta [AlKhandaq al-Ghamiq] area and the incident involving the two sheikhs in Shiyah,” Madi said.
Separately March 14’s general secretariat urged the Cabinet to refer the case to the Higher Judicial Council.
Slamming the “cowardly” attacks on the four Sunni scholars, a statement by the group after its weekly meeting said: “The attack on the sheikhs is an attack against the state’s security and the prestige.”
Meanwhile, Berri said the security situation should be given priority and urged more support for security forces in their mission to preserve civil peace.
During his weekly meeting with MPs, the speaker praised the role played by officials, the Army, police and the judiciary in the aftermath of the attacks and asked for the harshest punishment for the perpetrators behind the incidents.
After visiting Berri, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said the speaker had told him that there would be no political cover for any of the assailants involved in the attacks on the sheikhs.