BEIRUT: Political and religious leaders scrambled Monday to prevent Lebanon’s slide into strife, a day after attacks on four Muslim scholars sent long-simmering sectarian tensions soaring at an alarming rate, threatening to plunge the divided country into total chaos.


Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani warned that the attacks on the four Sunni sheikhs, scholars at Dar al-Fatwa – Lebanon’s highest Sunni religious authority – could trigger a sectarian conflict, while Interior Minister Marwan Charbel acknowledged that the country stood Sunday on the brink of strife. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri warned against attempts to ignite sectarian strife in Lebanon, saying that embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad would not hesitate to “use the blood of Lebanese” to save his regime from collapse.


Both Qabbani and Charbel blamed political and religious leaders for sectarian incitement in their speeches in a country sharply divided over the 2-year-old bloody conflict in Syria and is reeling under the negative repercussions of that conflict. [Link]