Islamic group vows Lebanon rally despite ban

AFP , Thursday 21 Apr 2011

Hezb Ut-Tahrir calls for a Friday protest in support of the Syrian uprising, in defiance of a ban in Lebanon on demonstrations for or against the Syrian regime

A pan-Islamic group has vowed to carry through with a planned rally in Lebanon on Friday against the regimes of Syria and Lebanon, despite a ban.

"Our protest will be held tomorrow at Nur Square" in the northern city of Tripoli, Ahmad Kasas, spokesman of the Hezb Ut-Tahrir group, told a news conference Thursday.

"We will walk together from Mansur mosque to the square without forming any other gatherings in the streets of Tripoli, in order to abide by the instructions of the Security Council."

The north Lebanon branch of the national security council, which groups security bodies and local governors, on Wednesday banned outdoor rallies in support of or against Syria's ruling regime, which for one month has faced unprecedented protests at home.

Kasas had previously said Hezb Ut-Tahrir would see its rally through and accused the Lebanese military intelligence bureau of offering to free arrested party members should the group call off the protest.

On Thursday he had said the demonstration had originally been planned under the slogan "In support of the Syria protests and against the Syrian regime."

"Today, we have added the slogan 'Against the regime of oppression in Lebanon,' a regime which has arrested 16 activists of our party and beaten some of them," he added.

Hezb Ut-Tahrir's representative in the northern refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, Jihad Shehadi Mansur, was arrested Thursday morning, bringing the total number of arrests this week over the planned protest to 17, a security official told AFP.

Nahr al-Bared was the site of a deadly 2007 summer war between the Lebanese army and Al-Qaeda-inspired group Fatah al-Islam.

Hezb Ut-Tahrir this week called for a rally after Friday prayers in Tripoli, a Sunni stronghold in northern Lebanon, to support Syrian protesters calling for greater freedoms from the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Hezb Ut-Tahrir - Arabic for "Party of Liberation" - is an international movement which seeks to restore a caliphate by uniting all Muslim countries under a single Islamic rule.

While the party is banned in most Arab countries, it is permitted to operate in Lebanon although it recognises neither the country's borders nor its constitution.

Ending a 29-year-old military deployment, Damascus pulled its troops out of Lebanon in the wake of the 2005 assassination of Sunni ex-premier Rafiq Hariri. Syria has denied any role in the assassination.

Short link: