Sidon Personalities Call for Reopening Roads in City as Asir Refuses to Complyإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Personalities from the southern city of Sidon rejected on Friday Imam of Bilal bin Rabah mosque Salafist cleric Ahmed al-Asir’s open-ended sit-in that is demanding the elimination of the “hegemony of illegitimate arms.”
Mustaqbal bloc leader MP Fouad Saniora said after the meeting: “We oppose the blocking of roads because it allows others to create instability.”
He called for the reopening of the roads in the city “because the current practices are hindering the freedom of the people and their daily lives.”
“We have never condoned the blocking of any road because it is an uncivilized practice that undermines the state, hinders the people’s daily life, and provides the excuse for others to create conflicts in Lebanon,” he stressed.
Saniora warned: “Blocking roads violates the people’s safety and it goes beyond the acceptable forms of freedom of expression.”
“We hope that people throughout Lebanon would avoid such practices because they will not lead to any solution,” he said in reference to the frequent blocking of roads, most notably the airport road in Beirut, in protest against various developments in the country.
The Sidon meeting was attended by a number of officials from the city, including governor of the South Nicolas Abou Daher and Mufti of Sidon and the South Sheikh Salim Sousan.
“We are and will always be committed to democratic practices. We will not be lured to conduct the same activity of those bearing arms and undermining the state,” Saniora continued.
“Every citizen has the right to stage a sit-in as a form of freedom of expression. We respect the opinions of all sides, but this form of expression should not lead to the obstruction of the daily lives of others,” stated the former premier.
“The roads belong to the people and the state is obligated to ensure their freedom of mobility,” he continued.
Referring to Asir, he added: “We respect the goals he announced, but we repeat that the freedom of people stops when it violates that of others.”
“We have exercised our freedom of expression without blocking roads,” he noted.
Saniora stressed: “We have long stood by the state in confronting developments that would serve to create tensions in the country.”
Asir soon responded to the Sidon personalities meeting, declaring: “We will not reopen the road even if the United Nations Security Council ordered us to do so.”
“Saniora’s remarks only represent him and not the free people of Sidon,” he added.
“We only fear God,” he continued.
He warned: “Any attack against us would likely be from Hizbullah and we hold Saniora responsible for it because he would have given them the green light for such action.”
Asir assured that there is no Sunni-Shiite strife in Lebanon, adding: “There are arms in Lebanon that are overpowering the state. How can strife erupt among unarmed individuals?”
“The Lebanese republic is being held hostage by the arms. We reject the hegemony of the weapons,” he stated.
“We will not end the sit-in until we are persuaded that Hizbullah and AMAL have accepted serious efforts to tackle the case of non-state arms,” he revealed.
“We will not end the sit-in until our peaceful demands are met,” said Asir.
Asir had told Voice of Lebanon radio on Thursday: “Our sit-in in Sidon is peaceful and civilized. It includes women, children and elderly.”
“We can no longer tolerate the spread of arms in the presence of the state,” he stressed, saying that his protest does not threaten the month-long security plan launched by Interior Minister Marwan Charbel.
In remarks to MTV he dubbed his protest an Intifada or Uprising.
Hundreds of the mosque preacher’s supporters blocked the northern and southern entrances to the southern city of Sidon on Wednesday night by lying down on the road.
Around 50 protestors resumed their protest on Thursday morning by erecting tents near Abou Bahaeddine Hariri mosque at Sidon’s northern entrance.