Beirut Holds Solidarity Sit-in as Bassil Joins Paris Anti-Terror March

Journalists and officials on Sunday joined a solidarity sit-in in downtown Beirut that was scheduled to coincide with a historic anti-terror march in Paris.

Carrying banners expressing support for the victims of the deadly attack on French weekly Charlie Hebdo, foreign ambassadors and Lebanese journalists flocked to the Samir Kassir Square in central Beirut.

The symbolic rally was organized by the Skeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom, which was founded two years after the 2005 assassination of Lebanese journalist and historian Samir Kassir.

Information Minister Ramzi Jreij, Saudi Ambassador to Lebanon Ali Awadh Asiri, EU ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst, lawmakers and March 14 figures were all present at the sit-in.

“All free minds must stand shoulder to shoulder in the face of terrorism,” said Jreij, expressing solidarity with terror-hit France and highlighting the ties of friendship between the two countries.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil represented Lebanon alongside world leaders in an unprecedented show of solidarity and defiance in Paris for the victims of this week's terrorist attacks in France.

Up to 1.5 million people took part in the massive march, led by French President Francois Hollande and around 50 world leaders.

Hollande thanked the participating foreign officials, including Bassil, and shook hands with them one by one.

“We feel with the French in their grief and agony and we're attending this anti-terror march today with them because France is the international platform for expressing our adherence to the joint human values,” Bassil said in a statement from the French capital.

“We were the first to suffer from terrorism in Lebanon and we defended the entire world through out martyrs. Every other day we have a Charlie – in the Lebanese army, Lebanese media, Lebanese families and every church and mosque,” Bassil added.

Addressing the French people, the minister went on to say: “Our battle is the same. We'll fight it together and we'll win it together.”

He also urged Western countries to show “more decisiveness in order to eradicate these (terrorist) groups militarily and ideologically.”

Representatives of Lebanese political parties and the World Lebanese Cultural Union had held a meeting at the Lebanese embassy in Paris on Friday, during which they condemned “the horrible terrorist massacre” against the French weekly Charlie Hebdo and called for participation in Sunday's Paris demo.

Twelve people were killed in the armed attack on the satirical magazine. Five other people were killed in other attacks on Thursday and Friday.


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