Spontaneous protest hounds former Lebanese PM from concert

By Ayat Basma BEIRUT (Reuters) - Outraged concert-goers shouting 'revolution, revolution' hounded former Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora from a Christmas concert at the American University of Beirut on Sunday night. Lebanese politicians past and present have been the focus of weeks of demonstrations demanding the end to a governing elite blamed for years of misrule and Siniora's presence at the concert set off a spontaneous protest. Siniora, an alumnus of the university, sat impassively on the front row as audience members erupted in chorus against him but eventually bowed to the pressure and left the concert hall with his bodyguards

Reuters December 17, 2019 00:14:11 IST
Spontaneous protest hounds former Lebanese PM from concert

Spontaneous protest hounds former Lebanese PM from concert

By Ayat Basma

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Outraged concert-goers shouting "revolution, revolution" hounded former Lebanese prime minister Fouad Siniora from a Christmas concert at the American University of Beirut on Sunday night.

Lebanese politicians past and present have been the focus of weeks of demonstrations demanding the end to a governing elite blamed for years of misrule and Siniora's presence at the concert set off a spontaneous protest.

Siniora, an alumnus of the university, sat impassively on the front row as audience members erupted in chorus against him but eventually bowed to the pressure and left the concert hall with his bodyguards.

"How dare they have the nerve to come to a concert when they know that people hate them. How dare they?" Terese, a retired teacher, told Reuters. "We started chanting: revolution, revolution, Siniora get out ... He didn't budge."

A performance by composer and pianist Guy Manoukian was interrupted by the uproar from the audience though once Siniora had left, the concert began in earnest.

Siniora later sent a tweet saying history would prove that he had always worked in Lebanon's interests though he may have made some mistakes.

Before serving as prime minister from 2005 to 2008, Siniora was a long-time finance minister. He was questioned last month by a state prosecutor over how $11 billion in government funds was spent while he was in power.

His office has said the spending was entirely legal.

Show of irreverence towards senior figures such as Siniora who have long commanded respect has broken taboos in Lebanon, setting the current wave of demonstrations apart from previous dissent.

The presence of Siniora, a former banker and one of the country's wealthy elite, showed indifference to the suffering of many people, some concert-goers said.

"Politicians should understand that they have become distanced from the people," said Maestro Barkev Taslakian, conductor of Al Fayhaa Choir.

Many Lebanese politicians have avoided public gatherings for fear of being targeted by angry protesters. One audience member said it was a blatant provocation for of a leading member of the establishment to attend the concert.

"They cannot ignore what's happening and attend and then pretend that actually they are not to blame," said entrepreneur Bahe Ghobril.

Others said music should be left out of Lebanon's deepening political divisions and economic woes.

"This is a cultural, artistic event and the revolution should be outside of these doors," one of the organisers said during the uproar.

(Reporting by Ayat Basma; Editing by David Clarke)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.