At least two activists were beaten up on Monday, one of them severely, after chanting “Beirut Free, Iran Out!” in a section featuring photos of slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani at the Beirut International and Arab Book Fair at the Seaside Arena (formerly known as BIEL).
MTV identified two of the activists as Shafik Bader and Nelly Qandil. He added that Bader’s cell phone was taken away by the attackers.
A force from the Intelligence Branch of the Internal Security Forces then arrived at the scene and launched investigations as a number of other activists arrived in a show of solidarity.
The Lady of the Mountain Rally later announced that members of the Rally and other members of the National Council for the Lifting of the Iranian Occupation of Lebanon had “come under attack” at the fair.
“They have come under blatant attack for asking ‘who Qassem Soleimani is’ and why his photo was on display at a cultural fair,” the Rassemblement said, expressing solidarity with activists and calling on the authorities security to launch an investigation.
He also castigated “the presence of a security apparatus belonging to Hezbollah at a cultural fair” in order to “protect an image”.
The fair administration then decided to close the fair for Monday for safety and security reasons.