Lebanese expats demand Lahoud to step down

DUBAI — Hundreds of expatriate Lebanese thronged the small area outside the main gate of the Lebanese Consulate in Dubai from 6pm yesterday, carrying national flags and pictures of the late former Prime Minister Rafik Al Hariri, chanting anti-Syrian slogans and calling for President Emile Lahoud to step down as well as the resignation of the Lebanese government.

By Hani M Bathish And Eman Al Baik

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Published: Fri 18 Feb 2005, 11:12 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:31 PM

No sooner had one patriotic Lebanese raised a placard calling for Syria to quit Lebanon than a brief silence fell, followed with anti-Syrian slogans that rose from the crowds, which mixed in with others singing the national anthem and patriotic songs.

Cries of "Hey yala Suriya titla'a bara" (Syria leave) rang out from the crowd at ever increasing decibel levels along with chants of support for Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblat and exiled Lebanese Army Chief, General Michel Aoun.

Maya, a Sunni Muslim who raised a hand written placard high above her head, declaring "they have killed us, its time they left us alone", told Khaleej Times: “A man like Hariri should not have this kind of end, he gave so much to his people, to all Lebanese regardless of their religious beliefs. It was very sad to see him die that way, but we believe his family and the opposition will place pressure to bring about an international investigation into this crime.”

“We are not a hopeless people, we have hope, we have his son, we have his spirit with us, we will continue in his path. Shaikh Rafik allowed me to get an education after my father passed away. This gathering should not be misunderstood, we only did this to express our feelings,” Maya added.

Khalid, a Shia Muslim was proud to take part in the community gathering which delivered a strong message to the government of Lebanon: “Rafik Al Hariri is a huge loss, he was a huge asset to the country and the people, not only through his international political influence, but also because of his vision to rebuild the infrastructure of a country that has witnessed great loss over the years.”

Omar, is a Sunni Muslim, for whom Rafik Al Hariri represented the only moderate voice in Lebanon: “Lebanon is a victim to foreign policies and meddling. The Lebanese people should work together to pass through this crisis and learn from previous experiences that started in 1972.”

While many chose to chant slogans others chose to light candles and stand in respect for the memory of the late former prime minister. The gathering dispersed as peacefully as it started a little after 7pm.

Brigadier Dr. Jamal Al Merri, Deputy Commander in Chief of Dubai Police, told Khaleej Times that the authorities had approved the gathering which was spontaneous and was not pre-planned. “We took the feelings of the Lebanese people into consideration, and we understood the gravity of their loss, so we did not object to their peaceful gathering.”

Dr Al Merri added: “We believe in the freedom of expression and opinion and we made sure that the security was maintained throughout the gathering.”

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