Saturday 22 July 2017

Syrian clerics call on 'peace-loving' Ireland to help lift sanctions

Dr Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria (in white turban) and his delegation
arriving at Leinster House for the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs to discuss the situation in Syria. Photo: Tom Burke
Dr Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria (in white turban) and his delegation arriving at Leinster House for the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs to discuss the situation in Syria. Photo: Tom Burke
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

A controversial cleric has denied that Syria's allies are responsible for atrocities in the war-torn country as a delegation called for the lifting of EU sanctions.

Sheikh Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, the Grand Mufti of Syria, was among a delegation of Syrian clerics and physicians who appeared before the Dáil's Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday.

The delegation urged Ireland to use its influence as a "peace-loving country" to lobby the EU to lift sanctions against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, which the group claimed are killing more people "than Isil did".

But in a heated exchange with committee chair Brendan Smith and Labour Senator Ivana Bacik, Dr Hassoun defended Mr al-Assad's regime, claiming his allies Russia and Iran "didn't kill any civilians" in Aleppo.

"They came to defend the Syrian people," he said through an interpreter.

"This regime built 28 hospitals and three universities in Aleppo. Why would the regime destroy it?"

The Grand Mufti has drawn criticism for his televised speech in 2012 predicting the war would trigger suicide bombers in Europe and US.

He claimed his speech was taken out of context by the media.

Irish Independent

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