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Protesters disrupt Lebanon MP’s dinner two nights in a row

Lebanese Member of Parliament Ziad Aswad, 7 April 2017 [Twitter]
Lebanese Member of Parliament Ziad Aswad, 7 April 2017 [Twitter]

Lebanese anti-government protesters have gathered outside restaurants after spotting Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) Member of Parliament Ziad Aswad having dinner in suburbs north of Beirut two nights in a row this week.

Disrupting MPs in bars and restaurants across Beirut has been a key tactic since December, with protesters rallying fellow demonstrators once high-profile figures have been spotted.

On Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, protesters vocalised objections to MPs dining in expensive restaurants while national poverty rates are climbing rapidly amid a worsening economic crisis. Clashes broke out between supporters of the FPM and protesters both nights, resulting in significant damage to cars and some injuries.

After alleged attacks on protesters by some FPM bodyguards, an office belonging to the FPM, a Maronite Christian party which boasts President Michel Aoun, was burnt and vandalised in northern Akkar.

Aswad was seen at Diwan restaurant in Antelias, north of Beirut, on Tuesday, hidden behind an opaque white curtain, smoking shisha and eating with a large group of people. A small number of protesters gathered outside.

Videos released of subsequent exchanges between Aswad and protesters from Tuesday evening show the incensed MP telling protesters that this “nonsense is over”.

Aswad told news channel Al-Jadeed, between hiccups, in an interview after leaving Diwan restaurant that “They [protesters] assaulted us, our dignity and our personal freedom. They accused us of corruption… they should know their limits”.

Fellow FPM MPs Maalouf and Elias Bou Saab later turned up in a show of solidarity with Aswad.

Former minister of economy and trade, Raed Khoury, was also filmed being shouted at by protests while in a wine bar in Beirut yesterday.

Aswad was spotted, once again, dining at an expensive establishment in Jounieh, north of Beirut, yesterday.

In a viral video shared on Twitter, Aswad supporters are seen attacking protesters outside a restaurant, punching one man in the face. The man was hit after facing questions about why he was in a Christian area in Jounieh, despite originally coming from Tripoli in the north.

Lebanon is a country heavily divided by sectarianism, where positions in government are designated based on religion. Protests which have swept the country since 17 October have sought to topple this sectarian political system which has been in place since the end of the Civil War in 1990.

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