Lebanon News

Protests against Jerusalem move held across Lebanon

BEIRUT: Protests in solidarity with Palestine were held across Lebanon Friday, with demonstrators denouncing U.S. President Donald Trump and demanding his downfall after he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday. In Beirut, protesters descended on the Qasqas, Al-Tariq al-Jadideh and Downtown areas, holding Palestinian flags and blocking roads.

The Downtown protest was reportedly organized in part by the Future Movement, in front of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s tomb. Several Future Movement parliamentarians, including MPs Ammar Houri and Khaled Zahraman, took part.

Representative of the Palestine Liberation Organization Sarhan Sarhan gave a speech, saying: “Palestinian people, especially in Jerusalem, are the first line of defense facing bullets, bombs, arrests and torture. Let them say what they say: Jerusalem is the eternal capital of Palestine.”

The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon meanwhile issued a warning to its citizens to avoid all protests and areas where demonstrations are set to be held.

The announcement came ahead of a protest set to take place in front of the U.S. Embassy, in Metn’s Awkar, Sunday.

“Review your personal security plans. Remain aware of your surroundings, including local events, and monitor local news for updates,” the statement said.

The French Embassy similarly warned its citizens to avoid demonstrations in the coming days.

The southern city of Sidon was the site of angry protests throughout the day.

At the Lebanese University’s political science department, students stomped on pictures of Trump and the American and Israeli flags, while others held up pictures in support of Jerusalem and Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah. “Hail Nasrallah,” protesters shouted, adding, “Palestine will be free.”

In the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, thousands of residents marched through the streets after Friday prayers, shouting that they were willing to be martyred for Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

In the nearby Palestinian refugee camp of Mieh Mieh, more than a hundred men clad in military gear and wielding assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades held an armed protest. Protesters included fighters from the Fatah Movement and Ansar Allah, an Iranian backed militia.

“Al-Quds [Jerusalem] is ours and it will return to us ... down with Trump,” the protesters chanted, hoisting pictures of the Dome of the Rock above their heads.

Local hairdresser Mohammad Sharif told The Daily Star, “I am from a [Palestinian] border area near the Lebanese border. My family was kicked out from there, and I will likely die here, but if Palestine is freed, I will return to Jerusalem.”

The armed men were joined by many of the camp’s residents, who shouted, “Down with Israel, down with Trump. ... Jerusalem we salute you.” Smaller protests were also held in mosques across Sidon.

Demonstrators gathered as well in the Beddawi and Nahr al-Bared Palestinian camps in north Lebanon. Residents of both camps took part in mass rallies after Friday prayers, while the joint Palestinian security force closed the entrances to the camps until the marches ended.

Speakers from mosque minarets echoed the chants of protesters, unwavering in their conviction of Jerusalem’s Arab identity.

Hamas official Abu Rabia al-Chehabi said protests against Trump’s decision would be ongoing.

“What is happening today is a massive gesture of protest and rejection of the decision of the U.S. administration ... that is considered an aggression against the Palestinian people,” he said.

Tripoli’s streets also witnessed solidarity marches after prayers, while several villages in the Dinnieh region held sit-ins at local mosques, condemning the U.S. move and emphasizing the rights of Jerusalem’s Muslims and of the Palestinian people. The protests followed Friday sermons that had called for popular mobilization.

A large Palestinian flag was raised above the Tripoli Chamber of Commerce, while students at the Arab University of Beirut in Tripoli held a sit-in in front of the university’s campus, raising banners and Palestinian flags. American and Israeli flags were also burned at the protests.

The Tripoli Bar Association said in a statement that it is committed to the sanctity of Jerusalem as the Palestinian capital, rejecting Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as “the capital of the artificial Israeli entity.”

The statement added that Jerusalem is the cradle of the three Semitic religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

The association condemned the “silence” of Arab nations and the international community, and expressed its “shame and pain over this shameful and suspicious silence.”

The association called for lawyers to boycott work Monday and hold a protest in front of the headquarters at 10 a.m. – Additional reporting by Timour Azhari

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 09, 2017, on page 3.

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