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Tony Blair in Beirut: fury at war criminal’s state visit

A huge demonstration humiliated Tony Blair on his visit to Lebanon on Monday of this week. Simon Assaf spoke to Socialist Worker from the demonstration in Beirut

Issue No. 2018

Lebanese people made clear their anger and disgust at Tony Blair’s visit to Beirut on Monday this week

Lebanese people made clear their anger and disgust at Tony Blair’s visit to Beirut on Monday this week

‘As I speak thousands of Lebanese people are streaming in from the southern suburbs of Beirut to protest against Blair. The demonstration is very mixed - there are Christians, Shia and Sunni, family groups and flags from all sorts of parties.

There are Hizbollah supporters and large contingents from nationalist parties that supported the resistance, including Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement.

The demonstrators are being held back just outside the centre of town. A “red zone” has been cordoned off surrounding the main mosque, the parliament building and the town centre.

It is protected by rolls and rolls of barbed wire and hundreds of heavily armed soldiers from elite units of the Lebanese army.

The crowds are chanting “Tony Blair, you are the poodle of the devil!” and “Now the resistance is victorious, we’ll get you Tony Blair - our country is free in spite of you!”

There’s a serious atmosphere here - the demonstration is packed and young, with fists pumping in the air. The general feeling is how dare he show his face here.

Blair’s arrival has been greeted with dismay by the vast majority of the country. People are asking if he’s here to apologise for helping Israel during the aggression. This is Blair’s real “legacy” - the hatred for him you can find all across Lebanese society.

This is turning into a bit of a crisis for the Lebanese government. Blair is only meeting the prime minister - other senior politicians, such as the Shia speaker of parliament, have refused to meet him or have distanced themselves from the decision to invite him.

Hizbollah politicians are saying that Blair’s visit is an insult to the people, especially when we’re still burying our dead. But they are being careful about going directly up against the government.’

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Sat 16 Sep 2006, 00:00 BST
Issue No. 2018
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