BEIRUT: Sheikh Hisham Khalifeh, the general director of the Islamic Endowment, said Saturday that the Shura Council has yet to inform Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Qabbani that it has annulled his call to hold Higher Islamic Council elections.
“What was said about the Shura Council issuing a verdict to cancel the mufti's decision to hold elections or council members is not true,” Khalifeh said at a news conference in Dar al-Fatwa.
“Neither Mufti Qabbani or the general directorate of the Islamic Endowment received any such verdict from the Shura Council,” he added.
Earlier this month, Qabbani, the head of Dar al-Fatwa, called for electing new members of the council on April 14 after he filed a lawsuit against the Higher Islamic Council, and an unidentified individual over what he described as the “fraudulent extension of the council’s term.”
Tensions within Dar al-Fatwa surfaced when 21 members of the council met last December, in a session chaired by the deputy head, Omar Miskawi, who is close to Future Movement, and extended the term of the 32-member body for one year without the approval of the grand mufti.
Attempts to resolve the crisis within Dar al-Fatwa have failed, despite numerous meetings held by leading figures in the community and the council to agree on an emergency session and resolve ongoing disputes.
Qabbani had called for council elections last year but the move was suspended by the Shura Council after 21 council members who are close to the Future Movement challenged the call.
Khalifeh also slammed what he said was a media campaign run by some politicians against Dar al-Fatwa, the country’s highest Sunni authority, saying there was a “Hezbollah cell” administering the institution.
He described such attempts as dangerous, saying it leads to divisions among Muslims.
“If they come up with evidence that proves the presence of the cell, the Dar al-Fatwa is ready to expel anyone that has affiliation to anything but the institution.
Lawyer Fayez al-Eialy also spoke during the news conference and said it was not the prerogative of the Shura Council to look into elections issues including a challenge against the mufti’s call.
He added that the regulations governing the internal affairs of the religious body stipulate that an elections committee be formed to look into such challenges.