03/28/2020, 11.08
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Beirut, Christian parliamentarian and Dar el-Fatwa clash over article on Mohammad

by Fady Noun

A tweet by May Khoreiche sparks tensions between Cpl and the Sunni institution, following publication of controversial volume "The last days of Muhammad", by a Tunisian academic. Leading Muslim personalities critical of the work. The MP's retraction and apology closes the matter.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - A tweet published on March 26 by the vice-president of the Free Patriotic Current (CPL) for political affairs, May Khoreiche, sparked the ire of Sunni conservative circles and briefly fueled some tension between her party and Dar el-Fatwa.

Ms. Khoreiche had attempted to promote online discussions of literary works and recommended reading lists during the lockdown period in her nation, within a section entitled "One day, a book". Her project was accompanied by the cover photo of a book she was reading at the time: The last days of Muhammad, a work by the Tunisian university professor Hela Ouardi, published by Albin Michel.

The last days of Muhammad is a historical essay on the uncertain areas surrounding the death of the founder of Islam. In the presentation of the work, the publisher Albin Michel states that Hela Ouardi "explores and compares the oldest Sunni and Shiite sources", adding that "the latter reveal another face of the prophet: a man threatened from all sides, weakened by internal rivalries and enemies that arose as a result of his conquests." It is "an unpublished chronological reconstruction", which opposes "the ideological portrait of the man restoring his historicity and his tragic dimension".

Regret and condemnation

In a statement published by Dar el-Fatwa, the religious body "condemned" the overt publicity given by May Khoreiche to the controversial work. At the same time, a group of lawyers sent an information note to the Supreme Court, comparing the initiative with an "incitement to hatred" and a "mockery of the sacred", while asking the author be arrested.

The religious institution claimed that May Khoreiche’s actions endanger "civil peace and coexistence". For this reason, it demands that the authorities "put an end to this blasphemous arrangement, which violates the provisions of the Lebanese Constitution" and demanded official apologies for "warding off a potential uprising".

In addition to the Dar el-Fatwa press release and the complaint filed with the Supreme Court, MEP Roula Tabch (of the Current of the future) and MEP Assad Dergham (Cpl) waded in to criticise their colleague’s initiative Khoreiche. Tabch branded those who recommend this work as "blind fanatics" who "persecute Islam". Dergham has rejected any "attack on the sacred truths of Islam."

Shared opinions

The former secretary general of the Islamic institution Sheikh Mohammad Nokkari said that "respect for freedom of thought and expression is one thing; encouraging the reading of provocative works for a large part of society is something else ”. [...] The Sunni dignitary went so far as to ask for the resignation of May Khoreiche, "above all because she occupies a position of responsibility within her political party".

Khoreiche’s response to  Dar el-Fatwa stated that "she did not want to damage the image of the Prophet, nor to advertise the work" and that she herself grew up "with respect for diversity religious ”in Lebanon. "As proof of my good faith - she added - I withdraw my tweet, in the hope that this gesture will be enough to put an end to a controversy that I certainly never wished to provoke. With assurance of my respect for all, within the general framework of respect for public freedoms and diversity present in Lebanese society".

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