Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hizbu'llah-(Some) Sunni Salafi Groups Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Avoid Sectarian Strife in Lebanon

Hizbu'llah, Salafists Ink Accord Banning Sectarian Strife

By Hussein Abdallah
The Daily Star, Beirut [August 19, 2008]

Hizbullah signed on Monday a memorandum of understanding with representatives of Sunni Salafist groups in a step aimed at easing sectarian tensions between Sunnis and Shiites in Lebanon. The document was signed at Safir Heliopolitan Hotel in Beirut by Hizbullah politburo chief Sayyed Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed and the head of the Salafist Belief and Justice Movement Sheikh Hassan Shahhal.

Shahhal is the cousin of Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal, the alleged founder of Salafist movements in Lebanon.

The eight-item memorandum banned internal strife between Muslims as well as all forms of sectarian incitement.

It also called for confronting "US and Israeli policies that aim at inciting strife and dividing Muslim ranks."

The memorandum, which recognized the freedom of religious and political belief, vowed to confront all forms of "takfiri" ideology (describing others as infidels) and stressed that such ideology will not be tolerated by Hizbullah or the Salafists.

It also called for forming a committee of clerics that would discuss disagreements between Sunnis and Shiites.

The memo also committed Hizbullah and the Salafist groups to supporting each other against any oppression by internal or external parties.

Before the signing ceremony, Sheikh Hassan Shahhal said that the Salafist groups would not have attempted to sign such an understanding without the approval of Future Movement leader MP Saad Hariri.

"I would like to thank Hariri and former Minister [and Future MP] Samir al-Jisr for their cooperation and backing of our move," Shahhal said.
But Jisr denied that Hariri had any prior knowledge of the memorandum of understanding.

"I heard in the media that the memorandum was approved by Hariri and myself ... I care to clarify that this was not the case," Jisr said Monday.

"A Salafist delegation visited me on Sunday and told me about its plans to sign such a memo with Hizbullah, but this does not give me the privilege to accept or reject such a move," he added.

Jisr also stressed that his movement prefers comprehensive agreements between all Lebanese parties, rather than bilateral ones, "which yielded negative results in the past." He was referring to the memorandum of understanding Hizbullah signed with MP Michel Aoun's Free Patriotic Movement in 2006.

But Jisr had said on Sunday after meeting the Salafist delegation that Future Movement had prior knowledge of meetings taking place between Hizbullah and Salafist groups. "We welcome such a move ... we are against violence and we repeatedly said that most Salafist groups are also against violence," he said.

"Communication between Salafist groups and Hizbullah helps in avoiding sectarian violence in Lebanon," he added.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal criticized on Monday the accord as "harmful to the Sunnis" and urged Future Movement to deny any cooperation with the Salafist groups who singed the document.

"This document is ... harmful to the Sunni community and would end up in vain, God willing," he said. "Those who signed have no influence, and whoever wants to defuse tension should talk to forces that do exist." [Al-Shahhal's comments suggest that the Future Movement has ties to Salafi groups, groups which some observers allege Hariri Inc. and its Saudi backers are funding in order to ratchet up sectarian strife in Lebanon over fear of growing Shi'i political power throughout the region.]



Hizbu'llah's offical web site published the complete text of the Memorandum of Understanding:

"In light of the enormous challenges faced by our Arab and Islamic countries, the most serious of which is inciting sectarianism in order to pounce on the region to plunder its resources and capabilities to serve the interests of 'Israel' and America.

The negative repercussions taking place in favour of the 'Israeli' enemy on the Lebanese arena for 'Israel' wants to take from the Lebanese what it failed to take by force of arms, particularly after the July war

According to our Islamic commitment and obligation, we exerted our best efforts to bury sedition and limit the differences between Sunnis and Shias in the framework of scientific thought undertaken by scholars from both religious communities, the handling of these differences or playing on their strings by the public has been prohibited.

The most important components in the management of these differences is to maintain the specificity of each community, respect its principles and symbols, provide full commitment to a calm scientific debate, taking into account that a sharp expression of differences between all the parties has negative implications and impacts on the general public-the rest of the Lebanese arena in general and the Islamic scene in particular.

Accordingly, the meeting took place between Salafist forces and leaders from Hizbullah where an agreement has been reached on the following items:

1. Based on the sacredness of Muslim blood, we forbid and condemn any assault by any Muslim group against any other Muslim group.
In the event of any group being exposed to assault, it has right to resort to all legitimate means to protect itself.

2. To refrain from incitement and stirring the public, as that contributes to stoking discord and sedition, which takes the decision making process from the hands of the wise and sensible people to the control of the foolish insolents and the enemies of the Islamic nation.

3. To confront the American-Zionist scheme of sedition, division and fragmenting what is already divided and fragmented as the highlight of their tools.

4. To strive in earnest and with effort to eliminate the infidelizing thought that exists among Shiaa and Sunnis Muslims, because to call the general Shiaas unbelievers is rejected by Salafis, and to call the general Sunnis unbelievers is rejected by Hizbullah.

5. In the event of Hizbullah or the Salafists were subjected to injustice by clear and apparent injustice by domestic or external sides, it should be backed as strongly and firmly as possible by the other side.

6. To form a religious committee of senior clerics in the Salafi Da'awa practice and senior clerics in Hizbullah, to discuss the controversial points of Shiaa and Sunni Muslims thus helping limiting the differences to within this committee, and prevent its transition to the street.

7. Each side has the right to freedom of belief, and no side has the right to impose its ideas and jurisprudence on the other.

8. The two parties believe that an understanding prevents sedition among Muslims, strengthens civil peace and coexistence among all Lebanese."

On behalf of the Salafi forces: Sheikh Hassan al-Shahhal - from Hizbullah: Head of the Political Council Sayyed Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed

It listed those present as:

Salafi forces represented by:
Institute of Outreach and Guidance. Faith, Justice and Charity mission. Islamic heritage Waqf. Brotherhood Association for Development and Education. General awareness for Development and Education. Islamic Charity possession (Dinniyah area). The Good Sanabel gathering (Akar). The Sheikh Doctor-Hassan Alshahhal. Sheikh Safwan Zoubi. Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Islamic heritage ownership. Dr. Mohammed Abdul-Ghani. Dr. Bashar al-I'jel. al-Sheikh ali Sheikh. Sheikh Amin Ibrahim. Sheikh Mohammed Zo'hbi. Sheikh Tariq Bekraki. Sheikh Amer al-Zakhuri. Sheikh Mohammed al-Oweid. Sheikh Jamal Shehadeh. Sheikh Abdel Ghaffar Zoubi. Sheikh Abdel-Majid al-Mohammed. Sheikh Samer al-Sh'houd. Sheikh Omar Mash'hour. Sheikh Omar Haydar. Dr. Khalid Al-Khair.

Hizbullah represented by:
Sayyed Ibrahim Amin al-Sayyed. Sheikh Abdul Majid Ammar. Sheikh Shafiq Jradi. Sheikh Khoder Noureddine. Dr. Hussein Rahal. Hajj Hassan Hudroj. Hajj Mahmoud al-Qamati. Hajj Ahmad Durrah. Sayyed Atef al-Musawi.

1 comment:

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