Bearded rapper detained, supporters decry profiling

Hussein Sharafeddine, known as Double A The Preacherman, was driving through a checkpoint in Haret Hreik when he was detained. (Screengrab via Facebook)

BEIRUT: A young rapper was publicly detained in Haret Hreik Wednesday by security forces, prompting outrage from friends and supporters on social media who accused authorities of targeting him due to his long beard and baggy clothing.

Hussein Sharafeddine, known as Double A The Preacherman, was driving a GMC vehicle through a checkpoint in the southern Beirut suburb when he was stopped by Internal Security Forces personnel, a witness told The Daily Star.

ISF personnel searched Sharafeddine and his four-wheel drive before apprehending him. Army Intelligence personnel, security forces and a fire truck were also called to the scene, causing panic among local residents.

A picture of the musician being detained, his hands pinned behind his back by two security personnel, circulated widely on social media. Some local news outlets and commentators captioned the image to suggest Sharafeddine was a terrorist on his way to conduct a suicide bombing. Fans who recognized the rapper pushed back, calling for his release.

Sharafeddine reportedly told Al-Akhbar English that he was released several hours later without charges.

After his release, Sharafeddine, who is lead vocalist for Lebanese funk-hip-hop band The Banana Cognacs, posted on his Facebook account: “This is the frontline of ignorance. I expect it from the pigs. But not from those who know me.”

His detention comes just a day after a suspected suicide car bombing in the same neighborhood killed four people Tuesday, the second attack this month against the area, where Hezbollah enjoys broad support.

Some suggested that in light of the security situation, the detention was justified given his appearance.

Others said accusing someone of being a terrorist based on their looks was unfair, prompting the Twitter hashtag #BeardedNotATerrorist.

“I understand that the situation is critical and that there’s a paranoia over security and safety but there should be proper measures taken when arresting suspects,” wrote the blogger known as Najib on BlogBaladi.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 23, 2014, on page 2.




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