Following his televised interview broadcast Tuesday night, protesters around Lebanon were enraged by some of President Aoun’s comments and proceeded to block main roads with burning tires. The angry demonstrators let out chants expressing their distaste for the comments which were described as “insensitive” to the people’s cause.
The scene was very much like the very first couple of days of the Lebanese revolution; the fires of the burning tires lit up the night and people were furious with the authority, this time with the President specifically.
Protesters blocked major roads, including Ring Bridge, Zalka, Zouk, Jal el-Dib, Sidon, Tripoli, Corniche al Mazra’a, and Chevrolet, among others across Lebanon. Mounir Jaber, a protester present at the Ring Bridge said: “I have never felt so disrespected. The earlier interview only shows that our cause is beyond legitimate; it has become a matter of survival.”
Some angry protesters in the Cola Bridge area threw rocks and other objects at army soldiers, which were given orders to open the main road there by force. The conflict with the army later diminished after the army was pulled from the area, after which the protesters returned to cut the road with various obstacles.
Some of the provoked protesters told the TV reporters covering the events that they were supportive of President Aoun before his recent comments and had decided to join the demonstrations opposing him in response to the “disappointing” statements that he made during the interview.
The hour-long interview was conducted by the two journalists Nicolas Nassif (Al-Akhbar) and Sami Kleib (Al-Mayadeen), who both presented the president with questions dealing with various angles of the revolution and current events in Lebanon.
“If people aren’t satisfied with any of the decent leaders, let them immigrate” was the comment that most provoked the protesters who were listening to the interview. It was immensely criticized and described as insensitive to the people protesting against corruption.
Following the outrage, Aoun’s presidency office released a statement explaining that his comment was taken out of context and providing the correct interpretation of that comment. “What the president actually meant was that if there are no honest individuals in the movement, then let them immigrate because they won’t get to power,” the office tweeted.
مكتب الاعلام في رئاسة الجمهورية: الصحيح ان الرئيس عون قال انه اذا لم يكن هناك “اوادم” من الحراك للمشاركة في الحوار، فليهاجروا لانهم بهذه الحالة لن يصلوا الى السلطة”. فاقتضى التوضيح منعاً لاي التباس او سوء استغلال. (٢/٢)