A brawl yesterday between supporters of two opposing factions of the Syrian Social Nationalist party abruptly ended a commemoration for the party’s founder in Sarafand.
Supporters of the SSNP’s Higher Council faction used fists and chairs while fighting backers of the rival Emergency faction in the local husseiniyeh (prayer house), leading to the hurried departure of keynote speakers and the intervention of the army to restore calm.
The Emergency faction had prepared a ceremony to commemorate SSNP founder Antoun Saade, as well as a fallen guerrilla, Fouad Younes.
However, Younes was a member of the Higher Council faction, whose followers resented the rival group’s intention to include him in the ceremony.
But organisers from the Emergency faction ignored a Higher Council statement denying its right to include Younes in the event, and went ahead with the commemoration.
Tensions mounted swiftly when the Emergency faction tried to expel Higher Council followers, including women and youths, from the ceremony.
As fighting broke out, state minister Ghazi Saifeddine, Chouf MP Zaher Khatib and Tyre MP Ali Khreis, all of whom were due to address the audience, left before speaking.
Troops stepped in to quell the fighting and arrested Higher Council supporter Mohammed Qassem Slim. He was released a few hours later.