Arrests Of Activists In Lebanon Sparked Angry Protests & Clashes

AP

Several revolutionaries took to the streets on Thursday, closing the highway in Jounieh and protesting for the release of a detained activist. The protests turned violent with clashes between the people and security forces.

Activist Michel Chamoun, who previously lost his finger by a rubber bullet during a protest, was taken into custody, reportedly for a video message to the president he posted on social media.

In the video, he addressed the President in regard to the state prosecutor’s decision to arrest anyone who insults the president, calling on the president to consider instead why the people are so angry.

His video was a response to new laws set by state prosecutor Ghassan Oueidat, who has begun a crackdown on those who criticize the president and his rule.

Lebanese authorities have been assigned to identify and arrest people who post photoshopped pictures of the president or insults targeted towards him.

The public reaction at the arrest of Michel Chamoun, as seen on social media and in the streets, was intense. His name trended #1 on Twitter and his arrest became the most talked-about event of the day.

Angry protesters gathered outside Jounieh Serail, demanding his release, which soon ensued in violence between them and the security forces.

Videos of these confrontations circulated online. One, in particular, showing one protester getting beaten up by several security forces members, sparked outrage on social media.

Taking information from MTV’s live coverage of the intense situation that extended to the Jounieh highway, Beirut Report tweeted:

Pushing, shoving continues as protestors take over [the] national highway, say they won’t leave until activist Michel Chamoun is free. “He didn’t rob the country!” says [a] woman. Another addresses President: “Aoun go fight corruption!” Another shouts, “Your day is coming!”

Around 9:30 PM, MTV reported that the Head of Beirut Bar Association, Melhem Khalaf, was seen exiting the security branch in Dekwaneh with Michel Chamoun and they headed to Jounieh.

In order to be released, Chamoun had to sign a pledge not to criticize the president anymore and delete the video.

At this point, the video had already been shared online by many other accounts that it didn’t matter whether he deleted it or not. And although he signed the pledge, he stated that he will continue to express his opinion democratically.

Earlier this month, activist Gino Raidy was also detained in interrogation for hours after he was sued for opinions he expressed on social media.

Protesters stood outside the Barbar Khazen Police barracks in Beirut where he was taken. He was released on the same day.

Another activist was arrested on Thursday yet her story is intriguing and highly controversial.

Kinda Khatib, a social and political blogger, holder of a Masters Degree in Literature, was taken reportedly by Lebanese authorities from her home in the North.

Details on her arrest, the reason, and her whereabouts are still unknown. Although no official statement has been issued, anti-revolution tweeters prompted to launch a fierce campaign against her, claiming she was arrested for being affiliated with Israel, which is a very grave accusation.

Kinda Al-Khatib’s name went also trending on Twitter, double-trending to be more accurate with two opposed hashtags.

Anti-revolution people went on slandering and defaming her as “traitor” and a “spy” while the people of the revolution went on demanding her release and stating her innocence.

According to various tweets, Kinda has been a target for her outspoken stance against Hezbollah for a long while now:

A tweet has been also circulating showing that her twitter account was hacked to set her up.

Puzzling and unsettling, the question remains (as to the time of writing): Where is Kinda El-Khatib?