Activists protest the violation of freedom of speech by the government in Beirut, Tuesday, July 24, 2018. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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Over 500 people gathered Tuesday evening in Samir Kassir Garden in Downtown Beirut to support freedom of speech and to protest the monitoring of social media by the Lebanese government.Citing the recent spate of social media users who had been detained and interrogated for the content of their posts, the protesters united in the streets and online under a hashtag that translates to "#AgainstRepression". They said that these detentions defy the freedom of speech protections enshrined under Article 13 of the Lebanese Constitution, and that anti-defamation and anti-religious incitement laws in Lebanon's criminal code are being unjustly applied to stifle speech. Last week alone, at least three people were either interrogated or called in for investigation by the Anti-Cybercrimes Bureau for social media posts on topics ranging from politics and religion to the controversial Eden Bay hotel.Fakih said she is not sure exactly what accounts for the recent uptick in action against social media users, but that it indicates a need for reform.
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