Sunday 9 August 2020 - 11:08

Arab Social Media Users Blast Macron's Visit to Beirut

Story Code : 879221
Arab Social Media Users Blast Macron
Macron visited Lebanon on Thursday and met with political leaders and toured Gemmayzeh Street, which is considered the most affected area in Beirut.

The French president spoke with citizens and assured them that France would provide aid to the people, not to politicians.

While some believed that Macron's visit carried a message of support for Lebanon after the massive explosion that took place in the Port of Beirut, others believe that it was “not innocent”.

Palestinian journalist Abdelkader Fayez stated that Macron “puts his internal crises and international failure aside, and acts as if Lebanon is a French colony, talking about regime change, a new political contract and a new Lebanon”.

He added in a tweet that “as if France is investing in the Beirut disaster, in order to reposition itself in a region where its role has greatly declined”.

UK-based Palestinian historian Bashir Nafie tweeted, “France has not witnessed since a long time a president who is unable to curb his imperialist ambitions like Emmanuel Macron.”

“The man unashamedly announces that he is in the process of setting a new contract for the Lebanese political life, and he behaves during his short visit to the stricken Beirut as if Lebanon was still a French colony,” Nafie added.

Yemeni activist Yamani Bin Islam Al-Salmi tweeted that “we live in the 21st century, and the world has become a village. The era of colonialism has been long gone, except in the mentality of French President Macron”.

Al-Salmi asserted that “[Macron] is acting and declaring political, social, and economic changes in Lebanon, as if Lebanon is still a French colony or an estate that belongs to him.”

An Egyptian citizen named Noureddine tweeted that “Macron is talking about a new Lebanon and a better economy as if Lebanon is a French colony. The situation is calculated far beyond emotions”.

Some Twitter users also criticized the French president’s refusal to shake hands with his Lebanese counterpart Michel Aoun, while he mingled with the citizens in the streets and hugged a woman cleaning the streets.

At least 158 people were killed in the blast that rocked Lebanon's capital and more than 6,000 others injured, but numbers are expected to rise as search and rescue operations continue for missing people in Beirut.

The death toll from Tuesday's catastrophic explosion has risen to 158, the Lebanese Health Ministry media office said.

The number of people injured exceeds 6,000 and 21 are still reported missing, it added.

The explosion left 300,000 homeless, as vast part of the city has been fallen into ruin. Red Cross volunteers at the scene of the explosion declared they expect the death toll to rise.

Lebanese rescue workers and army soldiers are struggling to remove huge items of debris in search for possible survivors at Beirut's port. The Lebanese Red Cross believes there are still tens of people missing, most of who were working at Beirut's port.

After the explosion rocked the capital city of Beirut on Tuesday, the Lebanese government decided to put all officials who oversaw storage and security there since 2014 under house arrest, until investigations are complete.

On Friday, Aoun stated an investigation into the Beirut port explosion was looking at whether it was the result of external interference, in addition to simple negligence or an accident.

Aoun also noted no colonial power can return to Lebanon, following a trip by French President Emmanuel Macron to disaster-stricken Beirut that sparked outrage among the Lebanese.

The president also rejected calls for an international probe into the incident.

Speaking in a televised speech on Friday, Secretary General of Hezbollah Seyed Hassan Nasrallah strongly denied claims that the resistance movement had any weapons stored at the warehouse prior to the explosion, adding that those accusations aimed to incite the Lebanese people against the resistance group.

He stressed that that the investigation will soon "reveal the truth" behind the deadly blast. 

Nasrallah said those responsible for the deadly disaster had to be held to account regardless of their affiliations, stressing that the probe should have neither political nor sectarian motives.

Terrifying footage showed a huge mushroom cloud of fire and smoke covering much of Beirut’s port area, blowing out windows and destroying buildings in the neighborhood, as a warehouse at the Beirut docks caught fire on Tuesday afternoon.

Photos on social media showed many buildings in the area damaged or destroyed, leaving residents covered in glass and blood.

Several smaller explosions were heard before the bigger one occurred and turned the city’s streets into a debris-strewn wasteland.

The health minister blamed the explosion on a fireworks accident, ordering all hospitals in Beirut to prepare for the victims of the incident.

Head of the Lebanese Red Cross George Kettaneh also stated that hundreds of injured people were taken to hospital for treatment, while some still remain trapped in their homes.

The Health Ministry announced all Beirut hospitals are overcrowded with those injured in the incident and can no more accommodate anyone.

Yet, the Health Minister told Lebanon's LBC News that hundreds are feared dead and thousands have been wounded in the blast. He added that the death toll now stands at over 158.

The Lebanese Red Cross also declared that over 6,000 people have been wounded in the incident, while the numbers are still expected to rise. It added that over 158 dead bodies have been collected from the scene of the incident so far.

Beirut Governor Marwan Abboud called it a "national catastrophe" and the prime minister declared a day of mourning.

“It resembles to what happened in Japan, in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. That’s what [it] reminds me of. In my life, I haven’t seen destruction on this scale," Abboud added.

Badri Zaher, Director General of the Lebanese Customs House, declared that dozens of tons of nitrate had exploded in the port of Beirut.

Lebanese General Security Director Abbas Ibrahim also dismissed rumors of Israeli involvement, noting that a large cache of highly explosive sodium nitrate was stored at the site, after being confiscated off a ship several months ago. But he did not explain how the fire has started.

Early reports claimed a short-circuit has likely sparked fire at the warehouse where the huge sodium nitrate cargo was kept and fire later spread to an adjacent warehouse where a huge cargo of fireworks was stored.

Yet, there is still no official report on the exact cause of the blast, a UN spokesperson told reporters that his organization is still unsure whether the explosion was "an accidental or man-made act".

The Israeli Defense Force has denied responsibility for the massive explosions in Beirut. Hezbollah has also denied the blasts were the result of a rocket attack.