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Lebanon: MP advises officials to ‘shoot in the direction’ of protesters

Demonstrators and security forces clash outside banks in Beirut in a protest against the economic conditions, on 28 April 2020 [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency]
Demonstrators and security forces clash outside banks in Beirut in a protest against the economic conditions on 28 April 2020 [Houssam Shbaro/Anadolu Agency]

A member of the Lebanese parliament has advised public officials to “shoot in the direction” of protesters outside their houses. “When faced with an individual who utters deviant remarks in front of your house while your children are there,” said Jamil Sayyed in a press conference on Wednesday, “shoot in his direction from your window.”

Sayyed’s remarks have sparked outrage in Lebanon, where people have taken part in anti-government protests since October and increasingly staged sit-ins outside houses owned by public figures. Despite the backlash, however, Sayyed, the former Director-General of Lebanon’s General Security agency, emphasised his comments in a tweet on Thursday.

“My words yesterday were addressed to any thug who comes to the window of my house to insult my dignity and my family,” he wrote. “My words were intentional, they were not a slip of the tongue.”

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According to L’Orient-Le Jour, four lawyers have filed a complaint against Sayyed. Wassef Harake, Hani Ahmadiye, Jad Tohme and Ali Abbas claim that his remarks constitute incitement to violence, the same charge for which several protesters were arrested following their alleged involvement in acts of vandalism in December.

“It is an incitement to murder protesters exercising their civil rights as enshrined in the Constitution,” explained Abbas. Sayyed’s confirmation of his comments the day after the press conference, he added, “shows that the threats are effective and real.”

According to Al Jazeera, on 27 May demonstrators marched towards Sayyed’s house, shouting slurs including that he is “the MP of security intelligence”, and it is this which possibly prompted the MP’s comments. Lebanese protesters have frequently marched to houses owned by politicians and prominent public officials in usually peaceful displays of public anger.

On some occasions, however, they have been met with force, resulting in clashes. In the northern city of Tripoli in late April, a group of protesters were shot at by the Lebanese Army when they marched on MP Faisal Karami’s house, local sources told MEMO

Protesters are demanding an overhaul of the outdated sectarian power-sharing system of governance, an end to corruption and a solution to Lebanon’s worst economic crisis since the end of the civil war in 1990.

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