Lebanese municipality lambasted for decision to move army memorial to Bekaa

BEIRUT: The Kingdom rejects attempts to use Islam as a shield for political purposes fueling hatred, extremism and terrorism, Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Lebanon Walid Bukhari said on Monday.

His remarks followed his meeting with Lebanese Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian.

Derian was one of the most important figures of national unity in Lebanon and the Kingdom was keen to respect all Islamic and Christian personalities and positions as they were responsible for the unity, Arabism and coexistence of Lebanon , he added.

He also said that the Kingdom supports the promotion of unity and rapprochement among the Lebanese.

His visit to Dar Al-Fatwa coincided with criticism of a statement by Iran’s Ambassador to Lebanon, Mojtaba Amani, during his visit to Derian last week.

Amani described him as “the mufti of the Sunnis” instead of his official title “the grand mufti of Lebanon”.

According to a source from Dar Al-Fatwa, this is the first time a diplomat has made such a mistake.

The misstep came amid a period of high political tension in Lebanon between Hezbollah and its allies and those calling for Lebanon’s sovereignty and Iran’s exit.

Political figures condemned the ambassador’s mistake, saying he downplayed Derian’s role “and that his speech is supposed to cause conflict”.

According to Lebanese laws, the grand mufti is the direct president of all Muslim scholars and the supreme reference for Islamic endowments.

He exercises all the powers conferred on him by Islamic laws and regulations.

He also meets with all the local muftis across Lebanon to examine the religious and social conditions of Muslims in their areas and provide scholars with necessary instructions.

Dr. Mohammed Al-Sammak, secretary general of the Muslim-Christian Dialogue Committee, told Arab News that the grand mufti was considered the first official religious reference in Lebanon.

According to Al-Sammak, the Iranian ambassador corrected his mistake but was slow to do so and deal with the chaos caused, adding that he did so after many political and religious figures condemned his statement.

The Iranian diplomat specified two days after his visit to Dar Al-Fatwa that Iran “wants to maintain Islamic unity and to respect all religious references”.

The Grand Mufti of Lebanon Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian. (AFP)

He added: “We have a good brotherly relationship with Sheikh Abdel Latif Derian which reflects authentic Islamic and national values. This relationship cannot be strained by those who have misinterpreted what has been said without considering the meaning and essence.

After meeting Bukhari, Derian hailed Saudi Arabia’s efforts to strengthen and deepen the culture of moderation, support the affairs of the Islamic and Arab worlds, and uphold justice and fairness in the world.

He also praised the role of the Kingdom – led by King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – in supporting Islamic and Arab affairs, as well as the special attention given to Lebanon and its concern to ensure safety, security and stability in Lebanon. and the Lebanese.

Lebanon’s Supreme Sharia Council, which held a meeting last Saturday chaired by Derian, devoted part of its statement to calling on King Salman, the Saudi crown prince, and the Gulf Cooperation Council to support Lebanon and not to abandon it. during his crisis.

The council declared that Lebanon was of Arab nationality and affiliation and would always be with its Arab brothers.

MK Imad Al-Hout of the Islamic Group was among those who called on the Iranian ambassador to apologize for his “intentional or unintentional mistake”.

MP Mohammed Sleiman said: “Iranian diplomacy has fallen into the trap of its own actions adopted to divide the Lebanese people.

He said that Dar Al-Fatwa and his mufti could not be subject to division or represent only a part of Lebanese and Muslims.

He added: “Your apologies cannot alter your statements as long as your actions show that you seek to divide people according to their religions and faiths to create discord between people in the same country.”

Acting Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi stressed the importance of security in the difficult circumstances that Lebanon is going through.

He warned of prison overcrowding and lack of discipline, revealing that rigorous inspection operations had been carried out in Roumieh central prison buildings since Sunday.

Mobile phones and knives made inside the prison were found, and he called on inmates to be patient and for justice to speed up the prosecution process.

He said that about 79% of the prisoners had not yet been sentenced and that 43% of the prisoners were foreigners.

The number of detainees in Lebanon is three times the capacity of its prisons, which has created pressure amid the national currency’s depreciation and increased the ministerial burden, he said.