Lebanon’s Islamic Council elections commence

Published May 10th, 2015 - 09:24 GMT

Lebanese officials arrived at Lebanon’s top Sunni religious institution Sunday to elect a Higher Islamic Council that would manage the body’s affairs.

The election come nine months after the election of Grand Mufti Abdel-Latif Derian, ending over a year of disputes that marred the functions of the council.

“There is a climate of consensus and a shared will to elect a new Higher Islamic Council... and this is something we badly need,” Prime Minister Tammam Salam told reporters before entering the election hall in Dar al-Fatwa in Beirut.

“The Higher Islamic Council’s members guarantee Lebanon’s stability, safety and progress.”

Salam, who spoke along side Derian, praised the latter for the “moderation” he has shown in his recent positions and actions.

“Today we launch a journey of reform and development in our Islamic institutions,” Derian said.

“The electoral bodies in Beirut and all constituencies today are working to reconstruct the house’s interior back to the right foundations.”

Derian stressed that the “past page had been turned,” highlighting that the elections are independent from all political interventions.

“No one is allowed to interfere in [the elections] for the interest of a political side,” Derian said, adding that even he, despite being the official head of the council, will not intervene and will keep “the same distance from everyone.”

“The candidates are the people of this house... and there is no return to division and separation,” he added, in reference to the previous situation where two councils existed.

The body split into two in April 2013, when the former Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, held council elections contrary to the wishes of 21 members of the 32-member body who are close to the Future Movement and who months earlier extended the term of the council for one year.

The row ended when an Egyptian-Saudi-brokered agreement led to the election of Derian as Grand Mufti last August, after which the council created by Qabbani was dissolved.

The General Directorate of Islamic Endowments Thursday reiterated in a statement Derian’s decision to call on members of the electoral body to choose members of the council, which oversees Islamic Endowment departments across Lebanese districts.

The council, set up in 1930 and chaired by the Grand Mufti, supervises the financial and administrative affairs of the institutions of Dar al-Fatwa, the top Sunni religious authority in Lebanon.


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