Gemayel, Kanaan, Nicola Slam Riots that Marred Awkar Protest
Northern Metn MPs Sami Gemayel, Ibrahim Kanaan and Nabil Nicola on Sunday denounced the riots that marred a demo protesting Washington’s decision on Jerusalem near the U.S. embassy in Awkar.
“We will not sympathize with your cause from now on. The Lebanese Army is not an occupation army; Awkar is a Lebanese Christian town and not an Israeli, Jewish or Zionist town; and the road to Palestine does not pass through any Lebanese city,” MP Nicola of the Change and Reform bloc tweeted.
“You are terrorizing civilian residents and hurling stones at the army that is protecting you,” the lawmaker charged.
Several protesters and policemen were injured after the demonstration turned violent. The protest was organized by a number of leftist and pan-Arabist Lebanese and Palestinian factions.
After a rowdy start, the protest drew several hundred people and became more peaceful, with demonstrators chanting and singing. The clashes resumed in the afternoon after organizers announced the end of the protest. Some protesters refused to leave the site and instead pelted riot police with stones.
Security forces intervened forcefully at this point, chasing the remaining protesters and arresting and beating up a handful of them. Riot police used rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to break up the demo.
“Awkar is not Gaza and Lebanese security forces are not Israelis. Public properties and citizens’ private properties should not be attack targets,” MP Kanaan, the secretary of the Change and Reform bloc said.
“Solidarity and protests supporting Jerusalem do not stand for the violation of Lebanese laws, Kanaan stressed.
Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel meanwhile said that “allowing the turning of the Akwar area into an arena for some rioters to attack the Lebanese Army and this peaceful area and its residents and shops shames this ruling class, which only flexes its muscles against those who defend Lebanon.”
Demonstrators were blocked from reaching the complex by a metal gate sealing the road leading to the embassy. The gate was installed hundreds of meters away from the embassy compound and was partially destroyed by protesters.
Waving Palestinian and Lebanese flags, and sporting black-and-white checked keffiyeh scarves, protesters chanted slogans against U.S. President Donald Trump, who on Wednesday recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and ordered the relocation of the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
A group of demonstrators set alight an effigy of the U.S. president, whose decision has upended decades of American diplomacy and an international consensus to leave the status of Jerusalem to be resolved in negotiations.