Residents of a Lebanese town rioted on Monday and demanded that the authorities should evict Syrians from the area after a local man was shot dead, allegedly by a refugee, the Associated Press (AP) has reported.
The Syrian who is alleged to have killed Joseph Tawk in a personal argument has surrendered to security forces. Officials have identified him only by his initials, MK, but have added that he worked at a home near a plot of land owned by the dead man.
Residents of the Christian mountain resort town of Bcharre torched Syrian homes and attacked individuals in the streets on Monday night in the wake of the killing. They surrounded the town’s main government building and called on the authorities to hand the suspect over. The Lebanese Army deployed troops in the area to keep the peace.
Some residents, including the Mayor of Bcharre, Freddy Keyrouz, demanded that all Syrian citizens should be evicted from the town. “All Syrians who are staying in the town illegally must leave immediately,” he insisted. The mayor also called on security forces to raid Syrian homes in the town and search for weapons after it was reported that “MK” had allegedly used a pistol to shoot Tawk.
Members of the local community called on the authorities to “evacuate all Syrians who are currently residing in Bcharre whether they are workers, settlers or families until a mechanism is reached” on how to host Syrian workers in the town. The statement was aired on local TV stations, said AP, prompting many Syrians to flee the town overnight. According to the state-run National News Agency (NNA), others were forcibly evicted by local residents.
Strained relations are common in Lebanon between locals and Syrian refugees who have fled the civil war in their country. Tensions date back to Syria’s three-decades of dominating its smaller neighbour, a virtual occupation which only ended in 2005 following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri.