Anti-Ahmadinejad Banners Appear in Tripoli: You Are Not Welcome


A Sunni Islamist group in the northern city of Tripoli sent a blunt "not welcome" message to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday ahead of his visit to the country.

Several banners and pictures of the Shiite Iranian leader, who is due in Lebanon October 13-14, went up in the mainly Sunni port city expressing discontent at the visit.

"You are not welcome in Lebanon", read in Arabic one banner hung over a pedestrian bridge in the Abu Samra neighborhood and signed by the Islamic Labor Front-Emergency Committee.

"No to Wilayat al-Faqih" said another banner in a nearby neighborhood, referring to Iran's brand of Islamic rule.

A picture of the hardline leader in another part of the city bore an X over his face and a message that read "Wilayat al-Faqih is not welcome here".

The doctrine of Velayat-e Faqih, as it is called in Iran, grants absolute authority over all matters -- religious, social and political -- to a marjaa, or senior spiritual leader.

Next week's visit will be Ahmadinejad's first official trip to Lebanon at the invitation of his counterpart Michel Suleiman.

The visit has sparked controversy, with members of the pro-Western parliamentary majority calling Ahmadinejad's plan to tour the border region with Israel a "provocation" and Washington also expressing concern.

Iran is a key ally of Lebanon's Shiite group Hizbullah, which fought a devastating war with Israel in 2006.(AFP)