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Lebanon protest icon 'kick queen' to face military trial

Malak Alawiye kicking a ministerial bodyguard in Lebanon [Twitter]
Malak Alawiye kicking a ministerial bodyguard on 17 October in Lebanon [Twitter]

A woman who became an icon of the Lebanese protests after karate kicking a ministerial bodyguard in the groin in October 2019, will face a military trial over the incident in November.

Malak Alawiye was initially charged by the civilian judiciary last year, but her case was later referred to the military tribunal.

In a hearing yesterday, Alawiye was informed that she must attend a session at the military court in November, where she will face trial for insulting and defaming security forces, the Daily Star Lebanon reported.

It remains unclear whether the charges relate to the kick or another altercation, as Alawiye has not been charged with physical assault.

The incident took place on 17 October, when the convoy of former Education Minister Akram Chehayeb was blocked by protesters in Downtown Beirut. One of Chehayeb's bodyguards got out of the car and fired an assault rifle into the air, sparking outrage among demonstrators.

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In the resulting clashes, Alawiye stepped forward and delivered a powerful kick into the bodyguard's groin, while he was brandishing the rifle.

The video was shared thousands of times on social media and adapted by several artists as a symbol of the protests.

Days after the incident, "kick queen" Alawiye celebrated her wedding in Downtown Beirut. The couple told local newspaper L'Orient-Le Jour that they decided to celebrate amid the protests because it is where "everything started".

Alawiye, and husband Mouhamad Herz, met during protests in 2015, over the country's ongoing waste management crisis.

Last year's protests erupted across Lebanon in October, after the government announced a tax on voice calls made via Whatsapp, Facebook and other online social media apps.

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The government later rescinded the tax but failed to quell protests which have called for the overhaul of the entire sectarian system amid a worsening economic crisis.

Earlier this month, Human Rights Watch criticised the practice of trying civilians involved in the protest movement in military courts.

The organisation said in a statement that "military courts have no business trying civilians". Adding that "Lebanon's Parliament should end this troubling practice by passing a law to remove civilians from the military court's jurisdiction entirely."

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