• Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at 6:31 PM
    Last Update : Tuesday, April 23, 2024 at 5:54 AM

Lebanon Condemns Growing Anti-Syrian Sentiment After the Killing of a Forces Party Leader

(AWP) - Calls to deport Syrians from certain areas in Lebanon have grown following the killing of Lebanese Forces Party leader, Pascal Sleiman in the city of Jbeil by a car theft gang that included Syrians.

Lebanese residents paraded the streets of Beirut’s northern suburbs, issuing calls through loudspeakers urging Syrians to return to their country.

The incident was followed by the handing out of a statement signed by residents in the districts of Remeil and Saifi, also demanding the departure of Syrians.

In an interview with AWP, Ibrahim Mneimneh, a Member of Parliament in Beirut, described such calls as harmful and unhelpful, as they can turn into hate speech.

He said, “The is very delicate issue and cannot be addressed with populism or by trying to create hate speech that could drag the country into a very dangerous slide, especially given the existing sectarian polarisation, as its danger could reflect much worse on the Lebanese than the current situation.”

Mneimneh pointed out the complexities of the Syrian refugee issue, most notably, the Syrian regime’s ability to bring them back home safely.

He stressed, “If there are actual Syrian refugees, they should be protected. But there are other groups, for example those needed by Lebanon as a workforce that has been historically present and requires regulation.”

Nonetheless, many Lebanese citizens support calls to deport Syrians.

Among those expressing hostility is Jihad Matar, saying, “We do not have brothers anywhere except in Lebanon, in the south, east, west, and north only. Every Lebanese is my brother. I am in favour of deporting them [Syrians] to their country, and whoever wishes to remain in Lebanon must have a legal residency.”

He added, “Any Lebanese who employs Syrians must be punished by the state. He must employ Lebanese citizens, even if he pays an extra $200 a month. It won't hurt him at all.”

In contrast, Lebanese citizen Mario Kai described the calls for deporting Syrians as “exaggerated”, adding that calls should focus on regulating their presence by the state.

Kai said, “Everyone knows that we cannot do without the Syrian workforce. It is better to regulate the Syrian presence, give them official papers [residency documents] and know their whereabouts to control security.”