Seems some tools of nato have conviently forgotten that it is imperialism and zionism which is creating the biggest problems for Muslims and others peoples of the region and beyond, in collaboration with their Gulf allies. Where does Qaradawi live again? Oh yeah, in Doha. hmm. - Sukant Chandan, Sons of Malcolm
Sunni Cleric Issues Appeal for World’s Muslims to Help Syrian Rebels
BEIRUT, Lebanon — A prominent Sunni Muslim cleric influential in the Syrian uprising has issued a fatwa, or religious decree, calling on Muslims around the world to help Syrian rebels in the embattled town of Qusayr and labeling Hezbollah and Iran, which support the Syrian government, enemies of Islam “more infidel than Jews and Christians.”
The cleric, Sheik Yusef al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian based in Qatar whom Syrian authorities have branded an extremist bent on inciting Syrian Sunnis but who is respected by many in the rebellion, made his statements in a sermon on Friday in Doha, Qatar, and posted them on his Web site. Though it was unclear how many would heed the call who were not already motivated to fight in Syria, his comments were bound to heighten sectarian passions in the region as the mostly Sunni rebels battle a government backed by Shiite Iran and Hezbollah.
Tensions also heightened on Saturday in Lebanon over the war in neighboring Syria. A mainstream Sunni Muslim organization called on Sunnis to join the fight against the Syrian government, and its leader was attacked as he drove through the Hezbollah-dominated Shiite area where he lives.
Sixteen shells and rockets fired from Syria on Friday night hit the outskirts of Baalbek, a city in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley considered a stronghold of Hezbollah, the Shiite militant group that is also Lebanon’s most powerful political party. Around the same time, gunmen fired on a Shiite shrine there, according to Lebanon’s National News Agency.
Four Lebanese citizens were arrested in the gunfire, the agency said. Though the motive was unclear, taken together with the shelling of a majority-Shiite area, believed to be carried out by Syrian rebels, the gunfire raised fears that sectarian clashes were spreading further into Lebanon.
The Muslim Scholars Association of Lebanon, a group of Sunni clerics, also issued a fatwa calling on its followers to support Syrian rebels “by words, money, medical aid and fighting, within legitimate restrictions under the ethics of Islam.” The group said it acted in response to Hezbollah’s increasingly intense and public intervention on the side of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Hezbollah guerrillas are leading an assault on rebels in Qusayr.
Though the group urged people heeding its call to resist “the temptations of sectarianism,” it said that if they failed to act, the “punishment” might be “the spreading of the Safawi project,” a reference to Iran and the Safavid dynasty established there in the 16th century.
The group’s leader, Sheik Ahmed al-Omari, was unharmed when his car was attacked in Bourj al-Barajneh, a mostly Shiite neighborhood that is part of Hezbollah’s stronghold in Beirut’s southern suburbs. It was unclear who shot at his car and why. But in an interview on Lebanese television he blamed militiamen from Amal, a Shiite party.
Last Sunday, rockets fired by unknown attackers hit the nearby neighborhood of Chiah, injuring four people, in what was widely viewed as reprisal for Hezbollah’s intervention in Qusayr.
There were no casualties in the shelling in Baalbek, which has a sizable Sunni minority and a smaller Christian one, the National News Agency reported Saturday. The rockets set fields and bushes afire, but avoided the city center.
The attacks came less than a week after Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, openly declared his military support for the Assad government. Syrian opposition groups, which aim to overthrow Mr. Assad, condemned Mr. Nasrallah’s stand and called for his fighters to withdraw from Syrian soil. Some rebel brigade leaders threatened to retaliate against Hezbollah directly.
Indiscriminate shelling has hit the smaller Shiite village of Hermel, in northeastern Lebanon, in recent weeks, killing several civilians. Baalbek, a major population center, is the furthest south in the Bekaa that shells from Syria targeting Hezbollah areas have reached.
Baalbek is home to one of Lebanon’s most important archaeological sites and tourist destinations, the Baalbek ruins, which include a pre-Hellenic temple and later Roman structures. It is also the site of an annual summer music festival that draws people from all over the region. Unrest in the Bekaa Valley would further hurt tourism and agriculture.
Meanwhile, in besieged Qusayr on Saturday, the humanitarian situation was deteriorating after 13 days of clashes.
Mohamed al-Abdullah, an opposition activist, said about 400 people had been killed and more than 1,000 wounded since the beginning of the battle.
Another resident of Qusayr, who had fled to Baalbek, said doctors in Qusayr were sometimes forced to amputate limbs that had become infected because they had run out of sterilization supplies. He said more than 11,000 Hezbollah fighters were in town, burning apricot and apple orchards and shooting at wounded people trying to escape the violence.
“No matter how hard you try to keep them under the lid, Syria’s problems and wars are bound to reach us,” said Aida Daouk, 82, a Beirut resident reached by phone. “It is scaring us. More people from here are going there to fight. Eventually more people from there will come here to fight.”
Hala Droubi contributed reporting from Dubai, United Arab Emirates.