Five students protesting against the Syrian presence in Lebanon were arrested on Wednesday in a demonstration on the fringes of a Francophone summit in Beirut, a student leader said.
Police closed off roads around the law faculty of Saint Joseph University in Ashrafiye, where some 800 students held a sit-in to back "the values supported by the international Francophone organization."
The protest took place as delegates from 55 countries were headed for Beirut for the ninth summit of French-speaking countries, to be held in the Lebanese capital from Friday to Sunday, according to AFP.
Dozens of students from other universities were prevented by police from entering the faculty and were submitted to ID checks. "At least five students were arrested on the orders of a police official," a student leader said.
Inside the law faculty students shouted "no to the suppression of freedoms, yes to the respect of man" and "we can no longer tolerate the Syrian presence."
"Syria out!", they also cried, referring to the 20,000 soldiers which Syria maintains in Lebanon and the powerful influence it has on domestic politics.
Banners in French called upon Francophone leaders to "push Lebanon to no longer undermine freedoms" and protested that "opposition members are thrown in jail in Lebanon." (Albawaba.com)