Thousands Rally in Support of Disbanded Lebanese Forces

Published March 24th, 2001 - 02:00 GMT

More than 3,000 students held a rally Friday to protest the disbanding of the Lebanese Forces seven years ago, and to dispel rumors that there was discord among Christian groups, reported the Daily Star newspaper.  

“We’re here, seven years after the LF was disbanded, to prove our solidarity on the concepts of liberty and democracy,” said Eddy Tawk, LF student coordinator at Notre Dame University.  

“We don’t need a government license to operate as a party from those who don’t represent the people,” Antoine Saab, also from the LF, told the paper.  

The protest included anti-Syrian slogans and calls for Syria to withdraw from Lebanon, according to the paper.  

A number of other groups joined the LF, including the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) which supports former army commander Michel Aoun, the Phalange Party, and the National Liberal Party.  

There was also symbolic participation from Druze Leader Walid Jumblatt’s Progressive Socialist Party (PSP).  

All groups, except the PSP, made speeches, but Yasser Zebian, press officer for the PSP’s student arm, told the paper that the PSP participated in the rally because “freedom cannot be segmented.”  

“We believe in respecting others,” he said. “And we want to show our support for the LF today because we believe they have been wronged.”  

Students waved LF and Phalange flags, with several holding pictures of the late President-elect, Bashir Gemayel, and jailed former Lebanese Forces leader, Samir Geagea, said the paper.  

According to the paper, the mood was rebellious, with loud-speakers blaring Gemayel’s speeches and Lebanese Forces songs.  

Banners also expressed a suppressed bitterness. “Our crime is that we refused to stand in line and follow suit,” read one banner.  

“The LF is here to stay, resisting always in the name of Lebanon,” said another.  

Protesters dismissed claims that such action might increase sectarian tension.  

“Sectarianism only grows when the government doesn’t treat everyone equally,” said LF supporter, George Akoury –  



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