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The New Arab

Lebanese children detained for tearing down president's party poster

Protesters are calling for a complete political overhaul [AFP]

Date of publication: 24 November, 2019

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Five people, including three minors, were detained on Saturday after ripping down a banner for the party of Lebanese President Michel Aoun.
Lebanese protesters are ripping down banners representing the full rainbow of the country's political factions after five people, including three minors, were detained for tearing down a poster for President Michel Aoun's party.

The detention of the five young protesters on Saturday evening sparked mass outrage in the country where demonstrators have been calling for an end to a sectarian and corrupt political class since mid-October.

The group, which included two 15-year-olds and one 12-year-old, were later released in the middle of the night, the Committee of Lawyers for the Defence of Protesters said in a Facebook post. A 19-year-old Lebanese man and an 18-year-old Syrian national were also detained along with the three minors.

The young demonstrators had removed a banner of the Free Patriotic Movement - founded by current President Aoun - hanging outside the party's office in Hammana, east of the capital Beirut, The Daily Star reported.

While their families said the boys had been arrested by the armed forces' intelligence branch before being handed over to the military police, Lebanon's army said in a statement on Sunday that the initial arrest had been made by the Hammana municipal police, which was "holding patrols intensively" in the area after "an attempt to burn the Free Patriotic Movement centre".

The army earlier on Saturday released a man who had been detained the previous day in the southern city of Sidon for displaying a banner critical of the country's top politicians.

"The dinosaurs are extinct, the Phoenicians have left, the French ran away. Why are you still here?" the sign said, coupled with pictures of President Aoun, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri and caretaker Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri.

Protesters on Sunday reacted to the news of the boys' detention by taking to the streets to tear down political posters and banners.

A video shared on social media showed protesters tearing down banners of the Free Patriotic Movement and replacing them with the Lebanese flag.

The Free Patriotic Movement is led by Aoun's son-in-law, outgoing foreign minister Gebran Bassil, one of the most reviled figures in the protests.

Termed the #DayOfRipping on social media, Sunday's protests mirrored demonstrations earlier this month in the northern city of Tripoli, where activists political posters and flags and replaced them with the Lebanese flag.

Meanwhile on Sunday, a festive mood reigned as Lebanese demonstrators took the country's public spaces for the second week in a row.

The beaches of Beirut were the center of Sunday's communal festivities as protesters looked back to the days before the vast majority of the capital's coastline was privatised.

Activists called for Lebanese to take to the beaches across the country to enjoy communal picnics, song and dance as part of a movement named "Bread and Salt".

Similar demonstrations occurred earlier this month when protesters occupied Zaytouna Bay, a luxury yacht and beach club in the capital.

Activists say the club was built on illegally privatised public land. 

Agencies contributed to this report

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