03/12/2016, 13.39

IS threatens Lebanese Christians, Hezbollah, as Arab League declares the latter a “terrorist” group

Paul Dakiki

In a video, IS calls on Christians to convert to Islam, urges Sunnis to rise up and impose Islamic law on Lebanon. Hezbollah, which is fighting the al-Nusra Front and IS in Syria, is declared a terrorist group. Arab League and Arab Gulf States also condemn "terrorist" Hezbollah. Riyadh is accused of supporting extremist groups in Syria and Iraq. Iran warns against putting Lebanon’s stability at risk.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – The Islamic State (IS) group released a video in which it threatens Lebanese Christians – calling on to convert or suffer the consequences – and urges Lebanese Sunnis to “rise up” and impose Islamic law.

The same video accuses Hezbollah of being “the source of crime and oppression in the country,” a statement that coincides with an Arab League summit in Cairo that also condemned the Lebanese Shia movement as a "terrorist" group, days after Arab interior ministers and the Gulf Cooperation Council issued similar resolutions.

The IS video was released by the “media office of the Raqqa emirate” in Syria. It shows two IS members from Lebanon urging Christians to convert to Islam “and if they fail to do so, then they will not be able to confront the IS.”

The video goes on to accuse Lebanese Sunnis and Shias, along with politicians, for allowing the rise of Hezbollah. “You will not stop the arrival of the Islamic State,” the extremists warn. “Perhaps we will cross over to Jerusalem over your remains,” threatened one of the two IS members.

“Your constitution is that of 'takfir' and you are being ruled by criminals,” they declare, whilst addressing Sunnis. “Your constitution is the Quran and the way of the Sunna, while their's is the way of the devil,” they added.

Hezbollah is a Shia political movement and armed group, whose influence in Lebanese politics has grown in recent decades. Allied to and supported by Iran, it has put its military force at the service of Assad regime in fighting Sunni extremist groups like al-Nusra Front (Al-Qaeda) and IS, inflicting major defeats on them.

IS’s attack against Hezbollah comes a few hours after the Arab League in Cairo voted by a large majority to declare Hezbollah a "terrorist" group. Lebanon and Iraq did not vote for the motion, angering the Saudi representative who left the meeting in protest.

“Hezbollah enjoys wide representation in Lebanon and it is a main component in the country,” Lebanese Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil said.

The Arab League's move follows a similar one by the Saudi-led GCC, which has designated Hizbullah as terrorist over alleged "terrorist acts and incitement in Syria, Yemen and in Iraq."

For its part, Hezbollah criticized the GCC resolution as "irresponsible and hostile,” saying that it "won't prevent us from condemning the crimes of Saudi Arabia in Yemen, the kingdom's financing and support of terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, or its collaboration with (Israel)."

Iran also slammed the Saudi move, warning its Gulf Arab rivals that they were jeopardising Lebanon's stability. Because of the rivalry between Riyadh and Tehran, Lebanon has been unable to elect a new president for almost two years.

* In Islamic law, takfir is the practice of one Muslim declaring another as kafir (infidel).

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