Arabic writing in the Bab al-Ramel neighborhood of Tripoli reads, “The Islamic State has risen.”
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Last week, as news of the attack on the offices of magazine Charlie Hebdo broke, Dr. Mahmoud Ziadeh was busy following up on the situation in Paris.The francophone academic, who was once the director of the faculty of arts at the Lebanese University in Tripoli, came back to Lebanon a few days before the incident, and he fears that Arabs and Muslims are going to pay the price for Islamist extremism.This has prompted many Islamist intellectuals in the north of Lebanon to question their position amid the growing power of extremist groups such as ISIS and Nusra Front, both in the region and in Lebanon, particularly in the north.Their doubts are especially strong given the declining influence of the Muslim Scholars Committee, their head Sheikh Salem Rafei, and the founder of the Salafist Movement in northern Lebanon, Sheikh Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal.Muslims, he said, should work on communicating the true meaning of Islam.This lack of trust in and curtailing of freedoms for Muslims is exactly what far right groups in Europe were calling for, Merheb said.The same goes for Jabal Mohsen, Merheb said.
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