SIDON, Lebanon: Three men arrested in Sidon for hanging leaflets denouncing Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai’s trip to occupied Jerusalem were released, a security source told The Daily Star Wednesday afternoon.
The Internal Security Forces in Sidon arrested Ahmad Abdallah, Ashraf Yazbek and Hussein Baghdadi from the Union of the Lebanese Democratic Youth - the youth section of the Lebanese Communist Party's youth section - for plastering the southern coastal city’s walls with leaflets on the occasion of the Resistance and Liberation Day on May 25 denouncing the normalization of ties with Israel and Rai’s upcoming trip there.
"The resistant Lebanese reject Rai's visit to Israel, " "Boycotting Israel and its supporters is a weapon we will not let go of"and "Religious tourism enhances the image of the criminal state" were among the slogans the three youth printed on the leaflets.
In a statement the ULDY in Sidon condemned the arrests describing them as breach against freedom of speech and vowing to pursue their campaign against Zionism and its supporters.
The ULDY also urged security forces to immediately release the three young men.
On Monday Rai stood firm on his decision to go to occupied Jerusalem, a visit that has stirred controversy in Lebanon.
Rai announced that he would join Pope Francis during a tour of the Holy Land on May 24-26, a visit that would make him the first Maronite patriarch to travel to Israel since it was founded in 1948.
Many have criticized Rai’s visit, saying such a trip could be seen as a bid to normalize ties with Israel, with whom Lebanon is technically in a state of war.