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Anger grows in Lebanon as France delays Abdallah’s release
Angry protesters defy the barbed wires set up in front of the French Embassy in Beirut.
Angry protesters defy the barbed wires set up in front of the French Embassy in Beirut.
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BEIRUT: The ruling in the case of George Abdallah has been postponed to next month as a number of his supporters continued to protest outside the French Embassy in Beirut Monday.

Angered by the news of the court’s decision, protesters clashed with riot police on Beirut’s Damascus Street and attempted to remove barbed wire placed by the security forces to separate the protesters from the embassy.

Activists, friends and relatives of Abdallah had gathered near the embassy before the court session in Paris that was set to address the prosecutor’s appeal against the approval of Abdallah’s parole. The session has been postponed to Feb. 28.

“This is completely unacceptable, even Abdallah’s lawyer was surprised by the court’s decision to postpone the session to next month,” Abdallah’s brother, Joseph Abdallah, told reporters during the protest.

“Abdallah’s lawyer was on his way to court when he learned of the postponement,” he said.

In an attempt to contain the anger of protesters, Interior Minister Marwan Charbel visited the sit-in to inform the activists that the tent in front of the French embassy should be removed.

Activists refused to remove the tent and said that they would only remove it when Abdallah was released. It was setup earlier this month when activists called for demonstrating in front of all French institutions in the country.

“This tent is staying here and we have made a number of phone calls with security officials in the past several hours to ensure that nothing wrong would take place,” one of the activists said.

During the demonstration, protesters managed to place Abdallah’s photo on a toy helicopter that flew beyond the embassy gates, a move that alarmed many security officials at the scene.

Meanwhile, activists said that they received assurances from Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour that the Cabinet is committed to establishing a ministerial committee to visit French officials in Paris.

“Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour promised during a meeting with the Committee for the Release of George Abdallah to address the issue during this week’s Cabinet session,” activist Bassam Kantar told The Daily Star.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on January 29, 2013, on page 4.
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