Shops were closed and many roads were blocked in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Thursday (6 March), when demonstrators took on the streets following the announcement of the death of Mr.
Shops were closed and many roads were blocked in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Thursday (6 March), when demonstrators took on the streets following the announcement of the death of Mr. Maarouf Saad, the well-known political leader from the southern port of Sidon. He died from gun-shot wounds received during a demonstration in Sidon last week.
The demonstrators forced some drivers to abandon their cars, set fire to piles of tyres, and broke the windows of buses to make them turn back. Some streets were blocked with trees, and traffic was diverted down side-roads. In some cases the demonstrators attacked cars with clubs, and the drivers were forced to abandon their vehicles.
The political tension in Sidon was sparked off by the Government granting exclusive fishing rights along the entire Lebanese coastline to a big Lebanese company, headed by Mr. Camille Chamoun, a former President of the country. On Saturday the Army moved in to clear road-blocks set up by the fisherman and their supporters, and fighting broke out. During the following 22 hours, both sides used heavy weapons, including armoured cars with cannon, and anti-tank missiles. Twenty-one people were killed.
At the funeral of Mr. Saad on Friday (7 March), more than fifty thousand people marched behind the coffin in Sidon, and thousands of other mourners took part in symbolic funerals in Beirut and Tripoli. Inn Beirut, mourners smashed the windows of a Pan American Airways office in the city centre, and others attacked a branch of the British Bank for the Middle East.