News / Middle East

Strife in Syria Ripples Into Lebanon's Sectarian Divide

Lebanese citizens leave a destroyed building that was damaged during clashes erupted between pro- and anti-Syrian Sunni groups, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 21, 2012.Lebanese citizens leave a destroyed building that was damaged during clashes erupted between pro- and anti-Syrian Sunni groups, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 21, 2012.
x
Lebanese citizens leave a destroyed building that was damaged during clashes erupted between pro- and anti-Syrian Sunni groups, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 21, 2012.
Lebanese citizens leave a destroyed building that was damaged during clashes erupted between pro- and anti-Syrian Sunni groups, in Beirut, Lebanon, May 21, 2012.
Scott Bobb
TRIPOLI, Lebanon - Some 700 people in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli staged a rally Friday to demand the release of Sunni Islamist leaders who they said were detained for opposing Syria's President Bashar al-Assad. The demonstration comes amid fears that the conflict in Syria could further enflame sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

Hundreds of Sunni Islamists known as Salafists Friday demonstrated in the northern Lebanese city, Tripoli. They were demanding the release of some 200 Sunni Lebanese who they say are being held without charge because they support rebels fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The conflict in Syria has raised tensions in this port city near the Syrian border. Sunnis, who tend to support the Syrian opposition, are angry at members of the local Alawite group that sympathizes with the Alawite-dominate Assad government.
 
The Lebanese government publicly has sought to stay out of the confrontation, calling it an internal Syrian affair.

But Syrian officials have accused certain Lebanese groups of supplying arms and other forms of support to the Syrian rebels.

Twenty-three-year-old electrician Hussein Ali said he attended the rally after Friday prayers to show solidarity with his fellow Sunnis.

He says there have always been problems between the Shi’ite Alawites and the Sunnis. But he says it is not between them alone because Syria is trying to make trouble. It was calm for a while but now they are trying to stir it up.

Ten people were killed in the city during clashes between the two groups two weeks ago. The violence erupted after a Salafist cleric was killed by Lebanese security forces at a checkpoint.

Sunnis say the cleric was targeted because he was helping Assad opponents flee to Lebanon. The Lebanese government says it is investigating.

A speaker at Friday's rally, Sheikh Omar Bakri, accused the Lebanese government of collaborating with the Syrian government. He urged the government to free the detainees on bail and charge them if it finds any evidence of wrongdoing.
 
“We [can] resolve the problem [by] releasing them all on bail or face the consequences. We are willing to make Islamic spring in the north of Lebanon.”
 
The Alawite community in Tripoli lies on the other side of a battle line marked by bullet-pocked buildings and burnt-out apartments. Posters of Mr. Assad and his father, the late Hafez al-Assad, are plastered on walls lining the narrow streets.

Clothing merchant Ali Fouda says the situation in Syria is fueling tensions in northern Lebanon.
 
He says we Alawites do not believe we should interfere with Syria's political affairs and they, the Sunnis, want to interfere. He says in Syria, the revolutionaries are calling for democracy but democracy is a contradiction to their [the Salafists's] ideology and beliefs.
 
The Syrian conflict is also causing unease among Shi’ite Lebanese.

Their militant Hezbollah party has sought to reduce its historical ties to the Syrian government because of the Assad government's crackdown on the opposition. But this has strained relations with Iran, which is a major supporter of the Syrian government as well as Hezbollah.
 
Clashes reached Beirut last weekend, leaving two dead. The tensions were aggravated by the kidnapping of a dozen Shi’ite pilgrims returning through Syria from Iran. Damascus blamed Syrian rebels but the rebels denied the charge. The pilgrims were released Friday.
 
Lebanese leaders from all sectors of society called for restraint and non-violence. But analysts say the atmosphere is volatile and small, isolated incidents could set off clashes.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Roy from: Sydney
June 07, 2012 8:31 PM
Correction to Gab

It is Talibanic Jihadis against Shias in Pakistan
Salafist Jihadis against Indian authority in Kashmir
Boko Haram militants against non-Boko Haram Nigerians
Patani rebels against Thai authority
Salafist militants against Copts in Egypt
Talibanic militants against Hindus in B-desh
Salafist Jihadis against Alawites
Alawite militants againsts Sunnis
Maronites are neutral and not in any conflict with any Islamist faction
Dinka lead military launching war against Sudan in first place (see Heglig)




by: Gab from: USA
May 26, 2012 8:08 AM
It is a never ending story: Muslim Shiites against Sunnis in Pakistan, Muslims against Hindus in India, Muslims against Christians in Nigeria, Muslims against Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims against Copts in Egypt, Muslims against Christians the Philippines, Aceh (Indonesia), Kosovo (Serbia), Muslims against Maronites in Lebanon, Muslims against Hindus in Bangladesh, Muslims against Russian Orthodox, Muslims against Greek Cypriots, Muslims against Bahai in Iran, Muslims against non-Muslims and Dinkas in Sudan.

by: Gab from: USA
May 26, 2012 8:08 AM
It is a never ending story: Muslim Shiites against Sunnis in Pakistan, Muslims against Hindus in India, Muslims against Christians in Nigeria, Muslims against Buddhists in Thailand, Muslims against Copts in Egypt, Muslims against Christians the Philippines, Aceh (Indonesia), Kosovo (Serbia), Muslims against Maronites in Lebanon, Muslims against Hindus in Bangladesh, Muslims against Russian Orthodox, Muslims against Greek Cypriots, Muslims against Bahai in Iran, Muslims against non-Muslims and Dinkas in Sudan.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs