Bahia Hariri Says Seeking Pacification in Sidon after Rival Demos, Unrestإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Residents of the southern city of Sidon staged rival protests on Friday as MP Bahia Hariri rejected "all forms of violence," a day after tension between the supporters of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir and members of the Popular Nasserite Movement threatened to spiral out of control.
“Sidon was abandoned and the government did not do anything to address the problem. We are keen to preserve all the components of the city in order to prevent strife,” Hariri said at a press conference she held at the headquarters of the Jamaa Islamiya in Sidon following talks with the group’s officials.
“Amid these developments, we urge everyone to show keenness on the unity of the city's residents and we have started communicating with all the political forces in the city in a bid to pacify the situation,” Hariri announced.
She stressed that the expression of views “must remain peaceful,” rejecting “all forms of violence and attacks.”
“We will carry on with our contacts with all the political forces after the government turned a blind eye to what is happening,” Hariri added.
Earlier on Friday, angry protestors blocked Sidon’s al-Murjan roundabout with burning tires to reject the sit-in launched by al-Asir on the city’s eastern highway against Hizbullah’s arms.
TV footage showed a man throwing old sofas from the roof of his house to help the protestors put them on fire along with the burning tires.
Security forces remained as bystanders and later firefighters reopened the road after the protestors dispersed.
Dozens of businesses have suffered financially from the sit-in, which the Salafist cleric has said would be open ended until his demands to find a solution to Hizbullah’s arsenal are met.
The burning of tires coincided with a march that al-Asir’s supporters held for the second day in a row following Friday prayers.
The protestors marched towards the seaside corniche but returned to the sit-in site after security forces prevented them from reaching the area following a decision by the Sub-Security Council of the South.
Al-Asir told Voice of Lebanon radio (100.5) that the Popular Nasserite Movement has the right to express its opinion but in a civilized manner and not through tire burning and assaulting people.
But the head of the party, Osama Saad, snapped back, telling al-Marada movement’s website that the cleric’s sit-in is provocative and damages the economy.
The streets of Sidon witnessed the deployment of Nasserite gunmen on Thursday night after an afternoon brawl between al-Asir’s supporters and Nasserite Abu Ali Skafi left a vehicle and shop windows damaged.
An Agence France Presse photographer was also beaten by members of the Internal Security Forces who intervened to end the skirmish.