ArDO: Yes we want Lebanon to be the Switzerland of the East and Beirut the Paris of the East


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Demonstration in Solidarity with the peaceful revolution in Lebanon


Tampa, Florida

March 13, 2005

Antoine Faddoul

Around 250 demonstrators from all ages chanted the words “Freedom – Sovereignty – Independence” in Tampa, Florida Sunday afternoon recalling the anti-Syrian daily demonstrations in Lebanon. Lebanese and American flags, and red-and-white ribbons filled Tampa City Hall Plaza in solidarity with the “Cedar Revolution” in Lebanon. The protestors represented all religions and sects of Lebanon and they described their actions as support to the peaceful  independence movement in Lebanon, and as an act of gratitude for the American administration and the international efforts in support for a free democratic Lebanon. 

Antoine Faddoul, one of the organizers, addressed the crowd after playing the American and Lebanese nation anthems saying “We want to tell the freedom fighters in Lebanon that we are demonstrating with them, we are breathing with them, we are praying with them, and as they go tomorrow to mark the one month anniversary of the assassination of Ex-premier Hariri in the Freedom Square in Beirut, we are here chanting with them Freedom – Sovereignty – Independence”.

The crowd chanted pro-independence and anti-Syrian slogans in solidarity with the large pro-independence demonstration expected in Beirut tomorrow. Some participants indicated that they have been calling their relatives in Lebanon, urging them to participate in tomorrow’s demonstration in Beirut – Around a million freedom protestors are expected in Beirut Monday.

The crowd denounced the assassination of former premier Rafic Hariri and called for international investigation into the assassination. They also demanded the immediate withdrawal of Syrian troops and secret service apparatus from Lebanon per UNSCR 1559, and the formation of an interim government charged with conducting democratic national elections under the supervision of the United Nations.

The demands included the disarming of all militias in Lebanon, and the deployment of the Lebanese army over the whole Lebanese territories, as well as releasing the Lebanese detainees in Syrian prisons. 

Michelle Haddad told the local media that it is the first time the Lebanese people demonstrate in Tampa, and that they did so because of the importance of the event “all the people in Lebanon are united for their independence, and we are here supporting them – we only wish we were now in Beirut, participating in liberating Lebanon with them” .

Darwiche Sabaeh, who led the crowd chanting “We only want the Lebanese army in Lebanon”, answered to a local TV channel: “we accept only the Lebanese army in Lebanon. In addition to the Syrian withdrawal, we demand the disarming of all militias in Lebanon”. Replying to another question, Tony Saoud stressed on the unity between Christians and Muslems in the battle for independence, which has been clearly seen in the diversity of the participants of the many demonstrations which have taken place in Lebanon and abroad.

Red and white ribbons were distributed to the crowd symbolizing the colors of the peaceful revolution in Lebanon. The protestors carried portraits of Lebanese leaders believed to be assassinated in Lebanon by Syrian army agents. The crowd emphasized on revealing the truth and uncovering those reponsible for the assassination of ex-premier Hariri, and on relieving the major security officers in Lebanon of their power, who are linked directly to the Syrian intelligence regime, and have failed in their duty of maintaining Lebanese security. The demonstrators informed the local media reporters that they believe the free world support Lebanon’s cause because they seek the three vital aspects of the free world: Truth, Freedom and Democracy.

Some signs read “We want the TRUTH”, “Syria Out Now- UNSCR 1559”, “Assad = Saddam”, and “Release the detainees in Syrian prisons”, among others.
One sign showed a caricature from the “Internationa! l Herald” showing the Syrian troops starting to withdraw after looting Lebanon while claiming to help the Lebanese. The protestors added a comment in Arabic script using Syrian dialect saying “Saadtoona Mooo!” = “ You helped us – Haven't you!”

Tampa’s demonstration was the largest protest for Lebanon's Freedom in the United States this weekend, were other demos took place in Chicago and Los Angles. Around 30 demonstrations took place in several cities in the United States since February 16, 4005 in solidarity with the independence movement in Lebanon.

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