Skip to comments.Lebanon's Salafi scare (Anti-American, Anti-Iranian, Anti-Hezbollah)
Posted on 08/02/2012 7:07:14 AM PDT by Colonel Kangaroo
Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir, a self-proclaimed religious authority with a bushy long beard, is no stranger on the Lebanese scene. His latest incarnation, from his mosque in the coastal town of Sidon, is as a firebrand political Salafist whose objectives transcend the confines of Lebanon.
He is part of a growing movement in Lebanon and other Arab countries in which the Salafists -- acting as guardians for Sunni interests -- are using the civil war in Syria to gain political power and revive the sectarian conflict with their historical foes, the Shiites. In Lebanon, sectarianism has been a primary feature of the country's politics for decades.
"For years, the Shias have been controlling and insulting us (the Sunnis)," Assir told me when I visited him at the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque in Sidon. "They control the security, the government, and politics. They pay Sunnis to back them to try to create fragmentation among us and they threaten us with a sectarian war ... We support the Syrian rebels. Here in the Sidon mosque, we raise money for those who come to pray for the Syrian rebels."
Assir's candor about his hostility toward Shiites is jarring, but reflects the same kind of sectarian strife I heard during a recent trip to Bahrain and the broader Persian Gulf...
(Excerpt) Read more at mideast.foreignpolicy.com ...