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Confectionery workers in Sidon protest Assir's sit-in

Employees at al-Baba sweets carry banners during a protest against Sheikh Ahmad Assir's tent camp that is blocking the major highway in the southern city of Sidon, Wednesday, July 4, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Around 220 workers at Al-Baba Sweets, the biggest confectionery in south Lebanon, marched Wednesday to denounce Sheikh Ahmad Assir's Sidon sit-in and vowed to take escalatory measures should he continue his protest.

The protesters, who said the sit-in has affected their work, held aloft signs that read "We want to eat, we want to live" and "Release us from captivity."

Speaking to The Daily Star, CEO of Al-Baba Sweets Aouni Baba said that his company, which is based in Sidon, has a commitment to hundreds of families and that something must be done to end Assir's sit-in.

"This is only the first step to pressure Sidon's Chamber of Trade and Industry to do something ... the city has become closed off."

Assir refused to meet with the protesters and sent a representative instead. Baba said that Assir's gesture was insufficient and demanded to meet the controversial preacher in person.

Baba also vowed to prepare for a bigger protest that would include all workers, some 340 of them.

Assir began an open-ended sit-in last week in protest of Hezbollah's arms. He and his supporters are blocking the northern part of the highway connecting Sidon to south Lebanon. The Sidon-based sheikh said Monday that he would not bow to any government or public pressure to end the sit-in.

Assir has demanded concrete action to curb what he describes as the hegemony of non-state arms, a reference to Hezbollah’s weapons. He also threatened an escalation of his protest if the issue is not taken seriously.

 

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