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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid