SIDON, Lebanon: Tensions ran high in the coastal city of Sidon Monday after posters to mark the ninth year since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri were torn down.
The police launched an investigation and is looking for the perpetrators of the overnight incident that angered many of the city’s residents.
To mark the passing of the killing of Hariri, who hails from the southern city, placards and posters were placed at the Murjan and Eliya roundabouts. They featured some Hariri’s most popular slogans.
One of the placards read: "In memory of your martyrdom ... Sidon renews its oath to remain committed to the Constitution and the Taef Accord.”
"[Former] Prime Minister Rafik Hariri worked for all of Lebanon, for the sake of the nation, and was martyred for its dignity and independence,” another poster read.
Posters of Hariri's son, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, his sister, Sidon MP Bahia Hariri, as well as Future Movement's Secretary-General Ahmad Hariri were also on display.
Nasser Hammoud, the Future Movement’s coordinator in south Lebanon, said the tearing down of the posters was designed to stoke up tensions in the port city and said the party has filed a lawsuit.
"This is an important event for us this year because it coincides with the start of the trials at [the Special Tribunal for Lebanon] at The Hague,” Hammoud told The Daily Star, referring to the international court probing Hariri’s assassination
"It is worth noting the level of hatred in the hearts of those who behind such heinous acts. They couldn't tolerate to see the picture of the martyred prime minister who they feared both in life and death,” Hammoud said.
He also said that the party had replaced the posters that were torn down throughout the city.
Sidon Mayor Mohammad Saudi also condemned the incident, saying the city's figures stood united in the face of what he said were attempts to provoke strife.
Sidon’s municipality and the Future Movement have organized several events to commemorate Hariri's passing, including social and educational activities.