The mufti of Lebanon, Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani, was quoted this week as saying that Palestinians are no longer welcome in his country. He also condemned Palestinians as “trash,” and said that he’s not afraid of their weapons.
Sheikh Qabbani’s remarks were made during a meeting he held in his office in Beirut with a Palestinian delegation, representing refugees and various Palestinian factions in Lebanon.
The furious mufti later kicked the Palestinian representatives out of his office.
More than 400,000 Palestinians live in Lebanon, most of them in extremely harsh conditions in refugee camps.
The meeting was called to discuss Palestinian “assaults” on state-owned and Islamic Wakf lands in Lebanon.
“We’ve hosted you and no longer want you,” the mufti told stunned members of the Palestinian delegation.
Accusing Palestinians of “usurping” Wakf lands to build houses, Qabbani told his visitors: “I will defend Wakf lands – even if that costs me all what I have.”
Attempts by the Palestinian representatives to muzzle the mufti further enraged the top religious official, who at one point shouted at them: “You are trash. You [Palestinians] will never be victorious. Nor will your cause. I’m no longer afraid of your weapons.”
The Palestinian delegates said they were extremely shocked by the mufti’s abusive language and threats.
“He called us trash,” one of them said. “He didn’t even give us time to respond to his allegations.”
Samir Abu Afash, Secretary- General of the PLO in Beirut, said he sent a report to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas about the mufti’s remarks.
Abbas instructed the Palestinian representatives to refrain from a confrontation with Qabbani out of fear that such a move would escalate tensions between the two sides.
Former Lebanese prime minister Fuad Saniora later phoned Fathi Abu al-Aradat to apologize on behalf of the mufti.
The mufti lost his temper following complaints that Palestinians living in refuge camps in Lebanon had illegally seized lands belonging to the state and the Islamic Wakf Trust.
Sheikh Tayseer Tamimi, former head of the PA religious courts, strongly condemned the mufti of Lebanon, saying his statements were unsuitable for a man of his status.
He said Qabbani had a long history of instigating sectarian strife between various communities in Lebanon, and demanded that he apologize to all Palestinians.