(Sunni Muslim Salafist leader Ahmad al-Assir (R) poses with a snowboarder in Faraya ski area, in Mount Lebanon, January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

It’s ski season in Lebanon and everyone’s hitting the slopes.

But when the country’s most controversial Sunni Muslim cleric took a convoy of supporters out for the day and was blocked by angry Christian protesters, many feared the trip could be the spark that would reignite Lebanon’s sectarian flames.

The long-bearded and bespectacled cleric Ahmed al-Assir, known for his inflammatory speeches and clashes with Shi’ite militants, took 10 buses on Thursday from his Sunni stronghold in the Mediterranean city of Sidon to Faraya, one of Lebanon’s ski resorts.

(Female supporters of Sunni Muslim Salafist leader Ahmad al-Assir engage in a snowball fight in the Faraya ski area in Mount Lebanon January 24, 2013. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir)

Residents of Kafar Zebian, a majority Christian area on the way to the resort, piled rocks and snow on the road in protest at what they saw as a provocation by Assir and his hardline supporters. A punch-up ensued and the Lebanese army intervened to break it up.