Hunger strikers announce an end to their hunger strike and eat Mulukhiyeh in Downtown Beirut, Thursday, Sept. 17, 2015. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Azakir)
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The leaders of a popular civic movement to unseat the political class called for the dismissal of Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk Thursday, one day after security forces arrested 38 people at demonstrations protesting the national dialogue.Free Patriotic Movement Leader Michel Aoun did not attend the meeting and sent a deputy, instead, but Berri said he expected Aoun to attend the next one."The random arrests that were taking place and the barbaric force used against us only reflects the fear of the government," Nidal Ayoub, a movement organizer, said. She accused the security forces of collaborating with political gangs to suppress the movement. Movement leaders Thursday said they rejected the plan, too.A meeting between Machnouk, Bekaa MPs and local officials from Zahleh, Anjar and Majdal Anjar yielded no agreement except to keep the dialogue ongoing.Berri said he had no foreknowledge of the attacks, but once he found out, he asked his aides to bring them to a halt. He credited the civic movement for its advocacy, but criticized its leaders for acting in self-interest. The gang also tore down a camp maintained by a dozen activists holding a hunger strike to force Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk to resign, another demand of the movement.
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