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Lebanon News

Assir holds rally in Sidon, says Hezbollah behind counter-protests

  • Sheikh Ahmad Assir holds up the "V for victory" sign in a rally, on Friday, July 13, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

  • The crowd at Sheikh Ahmad Assir's Sidon rally, on Friday, July 13, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

  • The crowd at Sheikh Ahmad Assir's Sidon rally. The banner on the left reads: "[It is] neither Sunni nor Shiite, but Iranian hegemony," on Friday, July 13, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Controversial Sheikh Ahmad Assir led a rally of some 1,000 people Friday along the coastal highway entrance to the southern city of Sidon, amid growing calls for the preacher to end his sit-in.

Addressing Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, Assir said, “Don’t raise your hand: period.” Some of those assembled before him followed this with the chant, “You’re not greater than God.”

Nasrallah is known to raise his arm, index finger pointing upward, when making a point during his speeches.

Assir’s rally, which was monitored by police throughout, comes as part of his continued sit-in protesting Hezbollah’s weapons. He has vowed to maintain the sit-in until Hezbollah agrees to discuss disarmament at the National Dialogue.

On Thursday, Assir defied calls to end his blockade of the vital highway linking Beirut with south Lebanon, even as merchants from the city held a demonstration to denounce him and urge the authorities to forcibly remove his encampment.

Assir accused Hezbollah of being behind the merchants’ counter-protests and criticized Sidon lawmakers -- who have called on him to abandon his sit-in -- without naming them.

During a speech he gave Friday, Assir said that every Friday, he and his supporters will stage a rally in the area where they are camped out.

Assir also boasted that he and his supporters had succeeded in inconveniencing Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, who is originally from south Lebanon.

“We control the road that Speaker Berri often uses to head home.”

 
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