BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Assir ignores Army appeal, holds protest in Sidon

Lebanese soldiers deploy during a protest in Sidon, Friday, March 1, 2013. (The Daily Star/Mohammed Zaatari)

SIDON, Lebanon: Salafist Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir Sunday ignored the army’s appeal for the preacher to stay in the Bilal bin Rabah Mosque and carried out another protest in the southern city of Sidon.

Around 400 of the sheikh’s supporters followed him as he changed the direction of his sit-in from the al-Karama roundabout and headed toward Sidon’s Nejmeh square, cheering slogans against Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

“We won’t calm down before Hezbollah’s arms are taken out,” said Assir, his supporters echoing his words.

Army troops earlier cordoned off the southern city of Sidon to prevent the sheikh from visiting the graves of supporters killed in clashes with Hezbollah loyalists last year, describing the visit as “provocative.”

The Army also encircled al-Karama roundabout in Sidon, where the supporters were buried and prevented vehicles from outside the city from approaching it.

Two of Assir’s bodyguards were killed in a shootout in November over banners raised by Hezbollah in Sidon marking the party’s Martyrs Day.

Sidon was spared violence Friday when Assir staged a protest that ended without incident amid strict security measures enforced by the Army and Internal Security Forces.

Assir’s repeated protests in Sidon and Beirut have stirred criticism from various parties and prompted security authorities to remain alert to any movement planned by the Sheikh.

 

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