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Thousands say 'Zoom out your cameras Bashar'


By Nayla Assaf

Daily Star staff

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


BEIRUT: Up to 150,000 anti-Syrian protesters marched in Beirut for the third Monday in a row since former Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination. The demonstration, the largest since Hariri's funeral when an estimated 250,000 people took to the streets, came as Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Lebanese counterpart Emile Lahoud failed to announce a timetable for a complete pullout as demanded by the Lebanese opposition and the international community.

Armed with banners and Lebanese flags the demonstrators agreed Assad's announcement of a partial redeployment of his troops to Lebanon's Bekaa Valley by March was not enough.

Hikmat Jurdi, a surgeon, clad in a white doctor's gown, who was accompanied by a convoy from the Beirut Order of Physicians, said: "What they have promised us is not enough. We want to hear Syria say that it will withdraw its intelligence officers as well as its troops and we want to know who killed Rafik Hariri."

Students and elderly people crossed the 2-kilometer stretch from Martyrs' Square to the seafront boulevard near the scene of the bombing that killed Hariri and 17 other people on Valentine's Day.

The protest was led by members of the opposition including MPs Butros Harb, Akram Shehayeb, Mohammed Hajjar and Ghattas Khoury.

Addressing the crowd, Khoury said: "We will not leave this place. Even if others decide to demonstrate next to us, above us, or even underneath us, we will not leave until they tell us the truth about Rafik Hariri's killing and until the heads of security agencies resign."

Hizbullah and other loyalist parties have called for a massive protest on Tuesday in Riad Solh square, some 100 meters away from the ongoing anti-Syrian protest square, to show support for Syria and protest foreign intervention in Lebanon.

As with every protest, new slogans accompanied the political developments of the day.

"Zoom out your cameras, Bashar" read many banners, in reference to Assad's allegations, Saturday, that if cameras shooting Lebanese protesters were to zoom out their lenses, they would find that there were only a few protesters.

Some protesters held pictures of security chiefs whose resignation is one of the key demands of the Lebanese opposition branded with the word "out."

The pictures, included outgoing Justice Minister Adnan Addoum, Director General of the Surete Generale Jamil Sayyed, Director General of State Security Edward Mansour, Director General of the Internal Security Forces Ali Hajj, head of Military Intelligence Raymond Azar, Commander of the Presidential Guard Mustafa Hamdan and head of the Monitoring Agency in the Lebanese Intelligence Bureau Ghassan Tufeili.