Last Updated: Wed Mar 16, 2011 17:01 pm (KSA) 14:01 pm (GMT)

Lebanon ex-MP apologizes for anti-Saudi slurs

Wiam Wahhab, former Lebanese minister and MP, belittled the full-face veil and dressing of Saudi women  
Wiam Wahhab, former Lebanese minister and MP, belittled the full-face veil and dressing of Saudi women

Former Lebanese MP Wiam Wahhab apologized Wednesday for a slur against Saudi Arabian women which sparked angry protests in north Lebanon, instead lashing out at Riyadh for killing Bahraini women.

"It was a wrong thing to say and I apologizes for it," said Wahhab, who last week slammed Saudi Arabia for dressing its women in "trash bags," in reference to the black niqab.

Wahhab, a Druze former minister and ex-MP who is close to Saudi's regional rival Syria, made his comments in an interview on local television last week.

Hundreds of angry protesters took to the streets if the Lebanese city of Tripoli Tuesday, burning tires and blocking roads in protest against the former MP's comments about Saudi women.

Around 500 Sunni Muslims chanted "There is no God but God" and "Wiam, you pig; you should be chained down," in reference to former MP and minister Wiam Wahhab, a high-profile member of Lebanon's Druze community who is close to Syria.

Around 300 more protesters burned tires and pictures of Wahhab, who last week in an interview on local television derided Saudi Arabia for dressing its women in "trash bags," an allusion to the black niqab.

Lebanon's second largest city is considered the stronghold of the country's Sunni Muslim community. It is also home to a minority Alawite community which is loyal to Syria.

The protesters temporarily cut off several roads inside the city, Lebanon's second largest, and a number of local politicians converged on the scene of the protest in a bid to defuse the rising anger, an AFP correspondent reported.

A grenade exploded in Tripoli's Bab al-Tabbaneh district later on Tuesday, without causing casualties or damage.

Tripoli is considered the stronghold of the country's Sunni Muslim community, which also forms the majority in Saudi Arabia.

Shiite group Hezbollah urged Wahhab to make amends.

"Hezbollah... rejects any form of abuse to the veil of the Muslim woman," read a statement released by the Iran-backed group.

"The party calls on minister Wahhab to make all necessary steps to correct his statement on a sensitive subject that concerns all Muslims without exception."

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