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Lebanon Sunnis Fight Alongside Hizbullah

Hadi Yahmid, IOL Correspondent

August 10, 2006

BEIRUT Ś Rejecting calls banning support for the Shiite Hizbullah resistance group, Lebanese Sunnis are standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Hizbullah fighters in defending Lebanon against the relentless Israeli onslaught, the deputy head of Lebanon's Al-Jama Al-Islamiya (Islamic Group) said on Saturday, July 29.

"The Sunni Islamic Group in Lebanon fighters are defending southern Lebanon hand-in-hand with Hizbullah," Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Masri, the group's deputy chairman, said in an interview with IslamOnline.net.

"We have military combatant groups in the border areas to defend villages there."

Al-Jama Al-Islamiya in Lebanon was established early 1975 during the Lebanese civil war to defend the Sunni areas in southern Lebanon.

Declining to reveal the size of the group's military presence in the area, Masri said the Sunni fighters are mainly stationed in southern villages along borders between Lebanon and modern-day Israel, and around the city of Sidon.

"There are two mainly Sunni strongholds comprising the villages of Araqoub, Shabaa, Habariya and Kafr Shuba along with western villages like Marwahin and Al-Bustan," he elaborated.

He went on: ""We, in coordination with Hizbullah, took charge of these areas and agreed that Hizbullah would have the final say in a ceasefire."

Speaking to IOL over the phone, Hizbullah's media officer, Ghasan Darwish, neither confirmed nor denied the participation of Sunni fighters in military operations.

"Naturally, the Lebanese people, regardless of their sectarian affiliations, will take part in resisting the Israeli aggression," he told IOL.

Up to 600 Lebanese, mostly children and civilians, were killed and thousands injured when Israel launched a wide-scale offensive on Lebanon on the pretext of seeking the release of two Israeli soldiers captured by Hizbullah.

The hard-won infrastructure of the Arab country has been left in ruins, with Israel knocking out Beirut international airport, bombing ports, destroying bridges, setting power stations ablaze and reducing houses to rubble.

Legitimate Right

The Lebanese Sunni group has also rejected calls banning support for Shiite Hizbullah.

"Hizbullah is doing great efforts which we all strongly support," Masri said.

Last week, a Saudi scholar caused controversy when he issued a fatwa banning the Sunni support for Hizbullah on sectarian grounds.

"This raises big questions about the parties behind such opinions at that time," Masri said. "Opinions fueling sectarian division are meaningless, rather they cause to fuel Muslim division.

"Resistance against Israel is a national and a legitimate right. The whole Muslim nation including intellectuals and scholars has to support the Lebanese resistance," he averred.

The tide of public opinion across the Arab world is surging behind the Lebanese resistance movement with its head Hassan Nasrallah becoming a folk hero.

An outpouring of newspaper columns, cartoons, blogs and public poetry readings have showered praise on Hizbullah while attacking the United States and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for her "new Middle East" that they say has led only to violence and repression, The New York Times said in an editorial.

Respected Muslim scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has said that support of the Lebanese resistance was a Muslim duty.

"When the enemy enters a country all the people there should unite to resist, be they Sunnis or Shiites, Muslims or Christians ... Such divisions hurt the resistance, which requires everyone to close ranks and speak in one voice," Qaradawi said.

"One is not allowed to instigate religious fanaticism which divides the people," he told the Doha-base Aljazeera television.

The International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS) also warned against calls fueling sectarian division between Sunnis and Shiites.

Egypt's mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, also said Hizbullah resistance group was defending Lebanon against Israeli injustice.

"The attacks, killing and destruction that are taking place in Lebanon now by Israeli forces are injustice itself," Mufti Ali Gomaa told a meeting in southern Egypt.

"This gives the Lebanese the right to defend themselves. Hizbullah is defending its country and what it is doing is not terrorism," he added.

On Thursday Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, the largest Muslim political movement in the Arab world, also rejected the Saudi fatwa.


:: Article nr. 25645 sent on 11-aug-2006 05:39 ECT

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Link: www.islam-online.net/English/News/2006-07/29/02.shtml



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