Amid growing fears that Lebanon could plunge into a new cycle of violence, an anti-government demonstrator has been laid to rest. Tension was high as mourners accompanied the body of the young protester through the streets of Beirut. A pro-Syrian Shi’ite Muslim, he was shot dead in a Sunni neighbourhood while returning from a rally.
In this, the most religiously and politically divided country in the Middle East, the Hezbollah-led opposition holds the government responsible. As his loved ones expressed their grief, the dead man’s fellow protesters appear more determined than ever to topple Lebanon’s Western-backed government.
They have set up camp opposite government headquarters where embattled Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his ministers are holed up. This is day five of their campaign. The premier is adamant his administration will not be forced out. He has condemned Sunday’s killing, calling for calm.
“There are no solutions to this other than dialogue,” he said, “otherwise our country will become a place of conflict.” Security remains tight around the capital. With thousands of protesters on the streets and no sign of a break in the deadlock, the fear is that Lebanon’s latest crisis could ignite yet another civil war.