Lebanon News

Assir plans weekly protests against Hezbollah arms

Assir, Shaker and other preachers rally peacefully in Sidon over the weekend.

SIDON, Lebanon: Sheikh Ahmad Assir said over the weekend that he will hold weekly peaceful demonstrations around the country until Hezbollah surrenders its arms to the Lebanese Army.

Speaking during a rally in Sidon’s Martyrs’ Square Saturday afternoon, Assir slammed Hezbollah and its ally Iran for inciting strife in Lebanon.

Assir said that the Iranian regime has been the source of trouble in the Middle East, and it will follow in the steps of the embattled Syrian regime.

Assir, a strong critic of Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah and Syrian President Bashar Assad, has organized multiple protests over the past year in a bid to increase support for the Syrian uprising and mount an offensive against Nasrallah for openly supporting Assad’s regime.

Saturday’s demonstration brought together hundreds of anti-Assad Lebanese and Syrians who chanted slogans against Iran and leaders in Tehran and Damascus.

One banner raised at the demonstration read: “To the free people of the world, the murderer Bashar has triumphed over the international community in Syria.”

As protesters gathered in Martyrs’ Square, police and Army personnel were out in force in the area and on alert to ensure the safety of the rally, which was viewed by some in Sidon as a provocation.

Over the summer, Assir held a monthlong sit-in that drew anger from many in Sidon for roads and hurting local businesses.

“Hasan Nasrallah, we are in the heart of this battle and we chose it to be a peaceful one. You will see what you haven’t seen before, and our movement will be like a hurricane that will spread to all parts of the country until the illegitimate arms go away,” Assir added.

Nasrallah, who has been criticized for his position toward the Syrian unrest, continues to support the Assad regime and accuses anti-Assad politicians in Lebanon of funneling arms to the Syrian opposition.

Despite Assir’s attacks, Nasrallah has managed to avoid mentioning the Salafist sheikh in addressing the Syrian crisis and its repercussions on Lebanon.

“I call on everyone to be ready for another protest next week in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square and the upcoming weekly demonstrations against the hegemony of the [non-state] arms,” Assir added.

Assir also called on Iran to stop intervening in Lebanese affairs and exploiting the resistance movement for its own political purposes.

According to Assir, Iran will share the same fate as the Assad regime. “Iran will go into history’s dump just like the Syrian regime,” Assir said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 08, 2012, on page 4.




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