The placement of multiple billboards presenting the late Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in the predominantly Hezbollah-controlled areas of Lebanon has sparked harsh criticism by Lebanese citizens.
They, including some former officials, took to social media to protest the imposed display of allegiance to Iran and its power in the country.
Strangely enough, it was the municipality of Ghobeiry in Beirut, in cooperation with the Siyaj Association, that officially unveiled in a resounding ceremony a memorial to Qassem Soleimani in the capital’s southern suburb.
That came almost 5 months after the Beirut Port’s explosion, while the Lebanese people killed by that blast weren’t, as of yet, given any official memorial by any Lebanese government institution.
It is like the Iranian commander matters more, or maybe only.
Naturally, the Lebanese people, who are by majority non-partisans of Hezbollah, couldn’t swallow it nor accept it.
They reacted with harsh criticism on Twitter, with the (still) trending hashtag ايدك_عن_لبنان#, which means “Your hand off Lebanon.” Another related hashtag used by Lebanese tweeters is الاحتلال_الإيراني#, meaning “The Iranian Occupation.”
Former Minister of Administrative Reform May Chidiac, used both hashtags in her tweet, saying: “Enough humiliation and abuse of our dignity and sovereignty!!!”
Activist Lea Dagher sarcastically tweeted: “Only in my car I don’t see a picture of Qassem Soleimani… Is this Lebanon or Iran?”
Some went even further and took action, writing in red on several of these street posters, “Here is Beirut” as a statement of refusal that this is not Iran, and posting about it on social media.
A street in the Hezbollah-dominated southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut was also renamed after Qassem Soleimani.
Two days earlier, Dima Sadek, an anti-Hezbollah outspoken Lebanese journalist, shared a picture of the Soleimani statue that was being finalized.
“The day would come when we will destroy this statue with our own hands as the statues of tyrants have been destroyed before it,” she tweeted.
Other Lebanese social media users commented that, instead of overflowing the streets of Lebanon with pictures of a deceased Iranian general, it would have been more appropriate to post the pictures of the victims of the Beirut Port explosion.