On Saturday, January 18, Nijmeh Square in Central Beirut witnessed heated encounters between protesters and security forces. After hours of violent clashes in the perimeter of the parliament building in Beirut, the caretaker Interior Minister Raya El-Hassan took to Twitter to comment on the intense event.
“More than once I pledged to protect the peaceful demonstrations,” the minister began, “and I have always asserted the right to protest. But when a demonstration turns into a blatant attack on the security forces and public and private property, it is condemned and totally unacceptable.”
اكتر من مرة تعهدت انو احمي التظاهرات السلمية، وكنت دايمن اكد ع أحقية التظاهر. بس انو تتحول ه التظاهرات لاعتداء سافر على عناصر #قوى_الامن والممتلكات العامة والخاصة، فهو امر مدان وغير مقبول ابدا. @LebISF
Less than an hour later, Minister El-Hasan posted another tweet, this time a video, showing a group of people walking together with a few security personnel walking among them.
It was captioned: “Escorting the demonstrators out of the Mohamed Al-Amin Mosque under the protection of the security forces.” As previously reported, these peaceful protesters took refuge in the Mosque from the violence unleashing unexpectedly around them.
That violence that erupted in the capital on Saturday was noted by Secretary-General of the Lebanese Red Cross, Georges Kettaneh, to be more severe than the several previous similar episodes of confrontation in Beirut.
It was reported that it all started with a group of “infiltrators” throwing stones, signs, metal bars, and fireworks at Parliament cops and ISF who were guarding Nejmeh Square, which caused hell to practically break loose.